Bob McKenty


Cinematic Sonnets: Musicals

The Sound of Music (1965)

The abbess solves the problem of Maria
By sending her to be a governess
To seven boisterous children. Nice idea.
(Good luck in cleaning up the Captain’s mess!)
Our postulant, somewhat disoriented
By opulence, is quite surprised to find
The children’s lives are just as regimented
As was the cloistered life she left behind.
She wins the children’s love and his affection
With effervescent strains from her guitar.
They’ll sing their way to Salzburg; sans detection,
Escape from Hitler’s clutches and go far
From home to Stowe, Vermont, where they’ll, perhaps,
Exploit their expertise as tourist Trapps.

Mary Poppins (1964)

Another nanny leaves the Banks’ employ
(That Jane and Michael!). George will place an ad
For one more stodgy matron, lacking joy,
When Mary Poppins just pops in. Egad,
Her carpet bag is bottomless! For her,
The children take their meds with sugared spoons,
Next slide with Mary down the bannister.
Then off they go, cavorting with cartoons.
With Uncle Albert’s levitating laughter,
Our spirits rise. With chimney sweeps at night,
They’re lifted to the rooftops. Shortly after,
They absolutely soar with George’s kite.
That stodgy matron (how the film upset her!)
Was P. L. Travers (thought her books were better).

My Fair Lady (1964)

Eliza hawks her flowers in cockney tones—
Abrasive sounds for Henry H. to hear,
Who’ll remedy the evil he bemoans:
He’ll make a purse of silk from this sow’s ear!
“The rine in Spine sties minely in the pline.”
He hasn’t got a chance in bloody hell
Of growing grapes from this uncultured vine,
Or shaping her into a demoiselle.
“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”
Eliza’s transformation is complete!
Rejected bluebloods cry in their champagne;
A lovesick suitor’s singing on her street.
A flower vendor blossoms, as she must;
A chauvinist Pygmalion bites the dust.


Bob McKenty aspires to write more sonnets than Shakespeare did (154). Unfortunately, “more” does not translate to “better.”