A sonnet is the shape of a beer mat. Form provides the freedom of constraint. The fifty-two sonnets in Opening Time suggest the duration of a year, a deck of cards or, less obviously, the fifth of the Bell numbers - those that count the possible partitions of a set, such as the rhyme scheme of a stanza or a poem. Time is opened, and dialogues are set up between the present and the past in ways that ask some questions about the future.
The fipple of a whistle or feadog
turns air to sound. The transitory chiff
attacks the tune. A frisson and the whiff
of something promised, edgy, almost rogue
sends a shiver through the room, the póg
mo thóin of music at its best. In a jiff
a rolling boulder’s levered from a cliff.
Urged on by Ollie’s lilting Wexford brogue
the tune takes on momentum of its own
until it seems unstoppable as time
while music throws its glinting gauntlet down
burning lead to gold to make what matters rhyme.
So, when they play let’s listen while we can
to fiddle, whistle, banjo, box, bodhran.
Michael Woods has taught English and Drama at school and university levels. He has researched the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and is a regular lecturer at the Hopkins International Festival in Newbridge, Ireland. He has run writing weeks in Italy and tutored on creative writing courses at Moniack Mhor in Inverness-shire. As editor of Tandem poetry magazine he has sought to promote the work of new writers alongside established names.