‘How can I explain it to you? Oh, I know. In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet.’
‘Yes, yes,’ Calvin said impatiently.
‘Kindly pay me the courtesy of listening to me.’ Mrs Whatsit’s voice was stern, and for a moment Calvin stopped pawing the ground like a nervous colt. ‘It is a very strict form of poetry, is it not?’
‘There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That’s a very strict rhythm or metre, yes?’
‘Yes.’ Calvin nodded.
‘And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?’
‘But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn’t he?’
‘Yes.’ Calvin nodded again.
‘So,’ Mrs Whatsit said.
‘Oh do not be stupid, boy!’ Mrs. Whatsit scolded. ‘You know perfectly well what I am driving at!’
‘You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?’
‘Yes,’ Mrs. Whatsit said. ‘You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.’
adapted from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Read this book for English class in Secondary 1, and this part has stayed with me ever since.