His Work Killed Him, A Puzzle Box Poem by Christopher Sanderson

(Homage, Sir Henry Howard)

“Strife was born… the elder daughter of black Night.”

—Hesiod trans. Lattimore

The                              Competitive speed and        Strength of a thought

Halidom                     Shaped by the myths           You haven’t had

In your hand:            First to claim it                      Last to read it,

A book.                        First to take.                          A look.


Here is the Bible       Here are Greek Myths          Here is a symphony

Written in fifths        You quote every day              Sung for the deaf

Five denials:               Plucked black strings           Or who is to say?

Five gifts.                    A pictured way.                      Struck white clef.


Sir Henry Howard     The Earl of Surrey                Wrote a sonnet

Though in a hurry      Or so I hear                            The first to bend

Made of fourths:        Was full of beer                      The most foolish proud boy…

Died but once.            Ruled little else.                     But made a good end.


Theogony                    Of invented forms                 Plethora, god-patron

Of the mundane        Of little, of rhyme                  Before Time

Had eaten:                  Of His own trick                    Designed a shield:

The blame.                  Of a labeled quarter.            His own death-warrant.



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