Ted Lewis Sonnet Poetry

Devotional and Confessional Sonnets by Ted Lewis (2019)


Here is a classic English sonnet by Shakespeare (#146)

Poor soul, the center of my sinful earth,
Fooled by these rebel powers that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body’s end?
Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shall thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.

To be fed within, spiritually, by the food of our deteriorating outward life.  What redemption!

Compared to Shakespeare’s other sonnets which typically are on the theme of romantic love, this one is more religious and confessional. Soon after him, several English poets, including John Donne, George Herbert, and John Milton, made larger use of the sonnet form for devotional purposes.

In the winter of 2019, Sister Lois of the Benedictine Monastery in Duluth, MN, loaned me a copy of a book of sonnets by the contemporary British Poet, Malcom Guite titled Sounding the Seasons.  Something new and strong resonated within me as I read his poetry.

Inspired by the way Guite placed biblical references into the sonnet form, I began to write a set of poems during the Lenten season of 2019. Out of this emerged a larger set that I have called Confessional Sonnets. George Herbert is for me a prime model of confessional poetry within the Christian tradition.

The listing below holds about 50 sonnets I wrote in 2019, all of which are devotional (meaning they are God-ward), and most of which are confessional (meaning they are aspirational toward forgiveness, repentance, new inner growth, and so forth.)  Please note the alignment of ‘spiritual’ with ‘aspirational’ — an important connection for me.

Finally, in the same way Shakespeare’s sonnet above carries through the metaphor of a building, both exterior and interior, in relation to the human body and soul, all of my sonnets rely on biblical passages and images in a similar manner. Peter’s denial becomes my denial. The five foolish virgins are my deceptive and foolish behaviors. This placing of myself into the text and being thereby questioned by the text has become a rich practice in my own journey of spiritual formation.


Lenten/Passion Sonnets

Advent Sonnets

Confessional Sonnets (Older Testament)

Confessional Sonnets (Newer Testament)

Miscellaneous Devotional Sonnets

Word and Image Sonnets

Word and Image Sonnet Set (2020)

Glory Sonnets – a Septet (2020)

Kenotic God – Sonnet Quartet (2020)

Irenic God – Sonnet Septet (2020)


To contact Ted Lewis:  tedlewis76@gmail.com

No republication is permitted without permission.