John Ridland


“I AM” Said the Iamb

(Responding to Slatsz Bresgal’s “Sonnet 542” calling the iamb “a boring little fellow”)

“I AM,” the Iamb roared, “I’m the Anointed.
I am the meter English has appointed
To power your Poems—minus Me they shrivel
To husks of meaningless, unmetered drivel.
I am the Lord of what you speak, l’anglais,
(As the poor French, ignoring me, must say).
So, walk straight up to me, don’t shuffle, sidle;
Bow down before me, kneeling to my Idol.
Rejoice in Me, the Iamb!—not the Lamb,
though (lowercased) it looks just like me, Ma’am,
For this vast difference you must keep your eye on:
A Lamb’s a Lamb. But me? Iamb a Lion!”

John Ridland was born in London, raised in California. Taught English and creative writing at University of California, Santa Barbara, 1961–2005. Recent publications: Hudson Review, Elegy for My Aunt, Happy in an Ordinary Thing. Translations: from Middle English: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl; from Hungarian: Sándor Petöfi; Sándor Márai; Miklós Radnóti.