We’ve been living on this planet a lot longer
Than we had any right to hope we ever would.
The beliefs we cannot shake are growing stronger
And what we know, we know does us no good.
It can be awful knowing nothing matters.
It can be awful knowing we don’t care.
But we view our life in a gentle light that flatters
And dare to live exactly as we dare.
So here’s to life, this tricky one-way ride,
And to our love which makes it all worthwhile.
Two existential nomads, side by side,
We’ll live in beauty, Lebenskünstler style.
Our where is here, our when is now;
There is no why, no one knows how.
Peggy Landsman writes: “I wrote ‘How We Live Now‘ for my husband’s 56th birthday (17 years ago). The clock was ticking and I couldn’t come up with anything to give him when, suddenly, I found myself writing like mad. This sonnet was his gift. He loved it then and still loves it now. He says it perfectly captures who the two of us are together.
It was also a gift to me. The final couplet is one of my favorite bits of my own writing. Each line has only eight syllables, but I’m fine with that. Lots of lines in this sonnet are not the absolute regulation iambic pentameter, but since the poem says ‘And dare to live exactly as we dare…,‘ why not?”
Editor’s comment: “The final couplet is not just a summation of the attitude of the sonnet’s quatrains, but as a stand-alone is also the neatest, tightest existential statement that I know of.”
Peggy Landsman is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Too Much World, Not Enough Chocolate (forthcoming from Nightingale & Sparrow Press, 2023), and two poetry chapbooks, Our Words, Our Worlds (Kelsay Books, 2021) and To-wit To-woo (Foothills Publishing, 2008). She lives in South Florida where she swims in the warm Atlantic Ocean every chance she gets. A selection of her poems and prose pieces can be read on her website: https://peggylandsman.wordpress.com/
Photo: “if not here, where? if not now, when? if not me, who?” by kafka4prez is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
I love the sonnet form and, although this one bends the rules a bit, it still works well and the final couplet justifies the whole poem.
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That final couplet is a stand-alone gem, one of the greatest I’ve ever seen, one I’m extremely envious of!
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