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While it will seem the height of arrogance to write variations on Shakespeare's sonnets, the attempt induces humility and an even deeper regard for the bard of Avon. In Shakespearean Variations, Ralph McInerny takes the first lines of the sonnets and their end rhymes, and composes sonnets of his own. The formal structure of the sonnet has always provided a salutary discipline for the poet -- iambic pentameter, the delicate symmetry of octet and sextet, the closing couplet which epitomizes the poem. The stamp that Shakespeare put upon the form, the themes of love and death, age and youth, loyalty and betrayal, have come to seem to adhere to the very form.
The pleasure to be had from reading Shakespearean Variations will vary with one's acquaintance with the originals but should always turn one to the bard himself.
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