‘If’ is temperamental and hardly worth
the effort it requires to hold it still.
‘Then’ is non-committal, swings back’n’forth
then comes, then goes, then pendulums at will.
In separate states ‘they’ push’n’pull apart;
good order suffers – everyone’s confused.
‘Then’ makes a mockery of a clean start.
‘If’ takes liberties (not to be excused).
What if/then in union these two are brought
to heel; made to see reason; in a sense?
What if/then, as bridled, these two are taught
to harness the logic of consequence?
. Then good reason will support a good guess;
. therefore, what follows will also impress.
© Tim Grace, 10 January 2014
To the reader: If/then logic is a basic tool of computer programmers. Coded scripts embed consequential actions that take place according to if/then decision-making processes. Evaluators use if/then sequences to unravel cause and effect relationships. And, our socio-cultural institutions apply If/then statements to establish and reinforce behavioural codes of conduct; law and order. Without a logical connection between ‘if’ and ‘then’ the two stand at odds and create confusion.
To the poet: The sonnet relies on a sequence of nested references that by association resonate with a reader’s interest. To engage curiosity, a loose level of ambiguity creates intrigue; and to add a twist, many sonnets feature what is known as a volta. The volta provides a turning point at which the direction of the poem changes; moves towards some form of resolution. In this sonnet the volta consumes the final quatrain; setting up space for the answer which comes in the final couplet.