There are 14 lines in a sonnet. I have completed just two in a work begun a couple of years ago. The opener:

Oh, fractional reserve banking, made in heaven! Oh, fractional reserve banking chaste and so pure!*

I know! "Chaste" and "pure"?! Inspired - and great hooks in these times of vast money creation.

Curiously, next it was the concluding 14th line that came to me:


Tho’ currencies be debauched, the battle is won!

Quite sublime stuff. But since the top and tail? Sweet FA. I had expected the cheese for this bun to dialogue luxuriantly like a rich strand of fondue through and around the story: the threat to chastity from investors, the bitter struggle with savers and the final emergence, with a large chunk of public investment, honour (and method) intact. Oh, chaste and pure banking system!

Yet, inexplicably, it is these middle 12 lines I have been having trouble with. Possibly something about the gold standard? Maybe a Keynes/brains combo couplet? Reference to the politically inspired but limp reflexive regulatory impulses sure to follow, like those littering the wake of every prior crisis (“dynamic provisioning, thou art but a dream”)? And is it possible to use the phrase “sterilised intervention” without losing some resonance?

In this inspirational desert any muse remains but a mirage.

So I thought, “what the hell, try turning the 14th around”:


Tho’ the battle may be lost, the currencies are sound!

The great thing about this line(s) is its versatility. And its sonority. And the implication of a greater war to be won. OK, so the meaning appears diametrically altered. Ambiguity is part of the beauty of verse.

Unfortunately, still inspiration remains illusionary. The fondue is cooling prematurely into a coagulated greasy mish-mash of illogical and clumsily linked words. There have been endless re-writes until continuity, logic and result - like some wild, on the fly, fire fighting regulatory policy - have become a hopeless dream.

Still, mustn’t grumble.


*With apologies to Machado de Assis

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