'Fine Though Sometimes Broken' - New poetry from our Creative Resident Ellora Sutton

We are very excited to bring you the first completed works from our current Creative Resident, Ellora Sutton. 

'Fine Though Sometimes Broken' is a crown of free verse sonnets, inspired by Ellora's time studying and learning about Edward and Helen Thomas in the Museum's Edward Thomas Study Centre. In a crown of sonnets, each poem ends with the first line of the next poem in the sequence, creating a chain. For the first and final lines of these poems Ellora has quoted or paraphrased from the works of Edward and Helen Thomas.

When talking about creating the work, Ellora said:

'These are not strict/traditional sonnets, but a sort of free verse, contemporary sonnet. The only rules I set myself were that they must have fourteen lines, and they must have a volta/thematic turn. I chose to do this because it signals participation in a tradition whilst still being forward-looking. Edward Thomas admired the sonnets of Keats (“And these last two and several other sonnets […] prove that the brief disciplinary form of the sonnet, with an emotion strong enough to crush mere fancy and observation, could combine rapidly to fine though sometimes broken results” – Keats) whilst being a pioneer of the free verse ‘form’ himself.'

Listen to Ellora reading her work - click here.

Below is the final sonnet in the group 'Cento' which is made up entirely of found text by Edward and Helen Thomas - the first line is by Edward, the second by Helen, and so on.

viii. Cento

The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet,

the only dream that enters the deep sleep of lovers

to unteach what the fox so well expressed –

a soft wind as of ushering voices.

I tasted deep the hour

I first learnt to distinguish trees,

the thick perfume of so many leaves

like a hand opened for giving.

It’s the turn of lesser things, I suppose.

Some beautiful effect of clouds or of smoke,

the windmills in the flat meadows by the sea below,

a shallow bowl of white violets –

if it weren’t for these things I shouldn’t be really alive.

These days of sun and peace are delicious.

You can find the complete crown of sonnets forming 'Fine Though Sometimes Broken' here and more about Ellora's process of creating them here.

In May, Ellora will be finding inspiration for her next piece from our collection of artwork by Flora Twort.