Friday, January 8, 2016

Poetry Friday: The Periodic Table of Crown Sonnets

When people spark in each other's presence, and shine brighter than alone, we call that Chemistry. The ineffable, mysterious SOMETHING that arises between like souls. How fitting, then, that this Poetry Friday, the Poetry Sisters culminate our year-long poetry project with a Crown Sonnet about....


The Periodic Table, to be precise. (You might've heard of it. Been in the news lately.)

If you've arrived here, you may have already read the first two sonnets, and the story of how we came to write about the seven rows of the Periodic Table. If not, here are the links to read before you hear about my contribution:

Laura: Row 1

Tricia: Row 2

And now, me.
Me and Row Three.

Yes. That was about my level of comprehension of my task. Say what? I'm writing about WHAT?

Luckily, I was fortunate to have Tricia's lovely last line, "What other treasures will the chart reveal?" to launch my sonnet. Still, I had to make choices. Write about the entire third row? Feature three elements, one in each stanza? Throw up my hands and say: WHO picked this topic anyway???? (Answer: Laura)

In the end, I was seduced by one element: Argon.

I'm not going to lie. I picked it mostly because I liked the word itself. It sounded noble. Regal. Important. This was confirmed when I waded through cool Argon related trivia on the Internet...

Argon is: (according to the Internets)

a prince from very late writings of Tolkien

a defunct British automobile (1908)

a codename used for the KH-5 Argon reconnaissance satellite (At least 12 missions were attempted, but at least 7 resulted in failure)

a family of Soviet computers (“military real-time computers”)

the fourth ruler of the Mongol empire's Ilkhanate (although it was spelled Arghun.) According to Wikipedia, Arghun "requested a new bride from his great-uncle Kublai Khan. The mission to escort the young Kökötchin across Asia to Arghun was reportedly taken by Marco Polo. Arghun died before Kökötchin arrived, so she instead married Arghun's son, Ghazan."  (Well! There's a whole book of sonnets there, don't you think? )

Sadly, most of this didn't have much to do with the periodic table.

Happily, I found many more facts about Argon that did.  I allowed myself one literary reference (to Portia, choosing suitors from "caskets" or decorated boxes in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice) and then I stuck to science.

Because, really, science and poetry are sisters. They allow us to look closely, to challenge our assumptions, and to boldly go where we haven't before. As sisters should.  (Here's looking at you, Laura, Kelly, Liz, Tanita, Tricia, and Andi.)

A Sonnet Inspired by Row Three 
of the Periodic Table of Elements
and AR (Argon) in particular

What other treasures will the chart reveal,
in double-lettered gilded boxes, fine
as Portia faced? AR has sex appeal,
I think, and choose my fate by noble shine.

A lilac glow when placed in voltage fields!
A barrier, so wine may age sans air!
Unseen, from dust, our Constitution, shields!
Argon, you worthy prince! you mighty heir—

You cheat. Hypoxic in the blood, you dope
to win; and ew! you asphyxiate, too—
a “kinder” end to fowl. “Inactive”? NOPE.
Those who search for matter (dark) target you.

Still, even the unstable can excite
A science lover, choosing in the night.

Thankfully, Kelly was inspired by that last line, and picked up with Row Four.  (Go! Read on!)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference.


  1. Sara, I love how particular you were! I got a little caught up waxing on big picture thoughts. You drilled down to so much fabulous detail about argon. This is amazing. The dark matter reference and your ending couplet (steamy stuff) are my favorites. See, I knew you guys would be tremendous with this topic!

  2. I LOVE this sonnet so much (emphasis on love) and I also really really appreciate this comment: "Because, really, science and poetry are sisters. They allow us to look closely, to challenge our assumptions, and to boldly go where we haven't before." The melding of art and science should be recognized more often and you do it soooo well. Thanks, Sara....

  3. Of course, the Tolkien king is Aragorn, not Argon. Says your nerdfriend. But I'm sure there are typos out there and that answer comes on up.

    I must say, if it's hypoxic in the blood, I'm a bit concerned that it's used to keep air out of wine, which we ingest. Not that it will prevent me from drinking, but still. And I especially love your lilac line.

  4. Hee, hee, hee. Your research sounds like mine: "Sadly, most of that had nothing to do with the periodic table." Yeah, I read a lot of REALLY cool stuff which just made me love the table so much more -- so to that end, this was a win, no matter what poems we wrote.

    That this element has "sex appeal" just made me giggle. So very Sara this one is...

  5. Wonderful how you meander all over the Internets, and show us so many fascinating tidbits, and then wrap it all up in BANG. I am in love with AR now, too. :) My favorite line:
    "I think, and choose my fate by noble shine."
    AMEN!! and BRAVO, Sara!

  6. I love all the little bits you shared, and then more in the sonnet itself. You've made me want to explore argon more. Perfect words: "You cheat. Hypoxic in the blood, you dope/to win; and ew! you asphyxiate, too—".

  7. I love how very different the voice is in your sonnet! I mean, dope and NOPE! Zing! What a surprise. And yet, you manage to be just as lofty. You ladies amaze me.

  8. Love the way you've zeroed in on argon, and especially the way you address argon in the third stanza...with language that was so unexpected, and such a contrast with the tone of the earlier stanzas. Nice!

  9. I love, love, love how you've opened your post. I do think there is some beautiful chemistry that happens when we work together on these projects. As difficult a subject as this one was, we did seem to work some magic.

    You may recall that when we first talked about this I was thinking columns instead of rows and was drawn to the noble gases. I'm so glad you chose one of them as the focus of your sonnet! I love all the cool information you shared, but love even more your reference to Portia.


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