www.bijanomrani.com / -> Other writing -> English poetry -> Sonnet on Holy Baptism

(Joint winner, BBC Radio 3 Sonnet competition 2001)

There is no rope whose fibres run direct
But twist in angles slanting to the line
It pulls; and where the woven cords reflect
And rub together, there, its strength shines
Equal with whoever hauls it. But exchange
The rope for copper wire, because it runs
Right to the source without the conflict ranged
Between the strands of twine, as I have done
In Baptism, have I not lost the force
In friction echoing my Mover? See
The waters trickling down my head divorce
To contrary streams and fall in twining ivy
Strands without any sign of certain flow:
So in the water's cross-wise ways I go.


Ruth Padel’s comments (competition judge):
Poems come across best to the reader if they are specific, rather than full of abstractnouns which never convey anything vivid to other people. My top favourite is fromBijan Omrani, Sonnet on Holy Baptism. It is about an event and concept on whichyou could well use a whole bible of abstract words. Instead, he has done somethingrather like Donne and the metaphysical poets: written a religious poem of faith anddoubt, concentrating on a very arresting concrete image. Then at the “turn” of thesonnet, which usually comes after eight lines, he questions what he is doing, throughthat image. “Have I not lost the force?” Very powerful, both original and traditional atthe same time.