Honor of the blood – Trifecta sonnet

The word this week in Trifecta is Blood in the following meaning:

a : lifeblood; broadly : life
b : human stock or lineage; especially : royal lineage
c : relationship by descent from a common ancestor : kinship
d : persons related through common descent : kindred
e (1) : honorable or high birth or descent (2) : descent from parents of recognized breed or pedigree

This meaning scares me to hell as it talks to me about family honour. In many culture it talks about arranged marriages etc. Which even drives families to murders. I have written poetry about that, and as usual when I’m serious I write a sonnet.

 Female Nude Killed from Behind by Eugene Delacroix

Female Nude Killed from Behind
by Eugene Delacroix

my sister, hearing you have met a man
please tell me ‘bout the nature of his blood
is he related, could there be a ban?
or will he soil us by his neighbourhood?

my sister, you have duties to your blood
the honour of the family defend
I cannot let you soil our name with mud
and never I’ll allow your blood to blend

my sister, you say listen to your heart
but think about the pain you’re causing us
we see you as a whore, a simple tart
now just obey, there’s nothing to discuss

my sister, I had to kill and draw your blood
forever you remain our flower bud

May 6, 2013

81 responses to “Honor of the blood – Trifecta sonnet

  1. What the Hell, B? That was harsh! I like it, for it tells too many unhappy stories for women and girls in many parts of the world.

    (you’ve means ‘you have’… did you mean ‘you’ve have’?)

  2. If this was the sonnet you and Arden were speaking of, I apologize. Amazing painting (as always) and your words splendid. Murder…relatives always the first suspects.

  3. But a man can marry whomever he wants 🙂
    These ‘honor’ killings have made local news and they aren’t very honorable at all. Very sad.

  4. This is powerful writing-and this line-
    “…now just obey, there’s nothing to discuss”
    That completely sums up her lack of choice regarding her own life.
    You’ve made me stop and count my blessings…Well done!

  5. I like the repetition. At first it sounds like pleading and then it turns into something like a reprimand. It’s cool.

  6. Its annoying how they treat her like a piece of furniture , one they can adorn ,show off and exploit , even though its their own flesh and blood .
    I loved it 🙂

  7. Wow, I loved how crystal clear and brutal your sonnet was, ‘could there be a ban?’ really stood out for me. And though I agree the form and the subject are timeless it had a distinctly modern feel to me.

    Really well done!

  8. We have even had “honour killings” here in peaceful little old Canada. I thought that your choice of words was well-suited to your subject matter. Sometimes, sonnet writers become all flowery in their language. That would have been ill-suited here. Luckily, you resisted that temptation and created a piece of writing that is speaks very well to one of life’s great travesties of justice.

    • Thank you, yes this residue of old habits exist here in Sweden too. And as soon as I saw the word I thought honor killing. Sonnet can be very serious as well.. More like Milton than Shakespeare 😉

  9. Honor killings in Sweden – I didn’t imagine that. Though I’m not naive enough to believe they never occur in the U.S. When you think of them you think of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, like The Stoning of Soraya.. that has stayed with me for a very long time. Powerful work, Bjorn. Great piece.

  10. The way you twist the word “blood” throughout was a nice touch, especially the way the last use jars so strongly with the first two, which, for the narrator, were supposed to suggest honor. I like your writing, Bjorn – I keep coming back for more!

  11. Absolutely grandiose my friend – superb writing, topic, and discipline; discipline in your restraint, as you’ve said, you’re speaking the truth, in a wonderful style, but you never let one word slip out for decoration and stayed within the parametres of the truth. I must take issue with commenters who think this is about womens’ equality..it goes a bit further, and I’d like to hear a few more feminist voices about this and genital mutilation rather than less urgent topics. I have a Jordanian friend, (Muslem) who was in love with a Christian Jordanian woman. They were actually planning to get married, even though no-one knew of their relationship. He carefully suggested to her father in a roundabout way that she was the ‘kind of woman he would marry’. Her brother followed him and warned him if he tried to marry her he would be signing her death sentence – meaning no doubt that her brother would kill her. When he texted to his Christian girlfriend he would not run away with her she tried to kill herself and ended up in hospital. He told me they would have killed her – even years later.

    • Thank you for this splendid answer, and I totally agree, the simple picture is that this is just those muslims… but it’s so much more complicated. And you just have to read a little of our own history to understand that this existed here as well. I have thought a lot about it, and I think to some extent it goes back to economics and control over the land (not really blood at all). Therefore there is still hope that with improved economy this will gradually disappear, and I agree it has nothing to do with equality, there are many cases of forced marriages for men also, and the murder of the man.

  12. The power of this poetry was incredible, not just the darkness of the subject matter (and the corkscrew twist from concern to dreadful murder) but also the construction, the rhythm and the imagery. Excellent.

  13. Very strong. I found the sonnet form and your reuse of the word ‘blood’ reinforced the voice of the narrator. Pity s/he isn’t aware there is no honour in killing.

  14. Powerful words! I love the structure of your sonnet, especially the repetition of sister. A great choice for the subject-matter.

  15. I went to school with a girl of a certain ethnicity who always had to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants to school regardless of weather, was not allowed to wear makeup or jewelry of any kind,etc. At 12 I didn’t really know much about the why’s of it, and as a white female in America I couldn’t really comprehend that it was a religious or familial demand, I didn’t even get that that was a concept. Nine years later I saw her picture on the news, after she was trapped in an alley and shot by her cousins, an ‘honor’ killing because she decided to go to college and date a man outside of her religion. This brought that back powerfully enough to make my heart ache. Well done.

  16. Honoring killings in some cultures are so alien to me. That family members would rather murder their daughters than have them ‘defile’ their blood lines… it is unimaginable.

  17. Honor killings, the lifeblood of patriarchal cultures. Your nephew killed my son, so your daughter must die. Girl, you chose the wrong boy to love, so you must die. Girl, you didn’t…

    As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I can state frankly that more is done to hurt little girls in every country around the globe that is known. From forced circumcisions to the “honor killings” (an oxymoron), it’s always about punishing “Eve.” Thanks for a brutally honest sonnet. Really hit home for me. Amy

    • I understand this, though a lot of honour killing is also young men being killed. At the end of the day I think it’s about exercising power… and I think you are right that child abuse has similar roots. I think it would be a useful discussion to have, as it would move beyond the traditional religious view point on these crimes.

  18. This is terrific Bjorn & I can dso relate to it!In India,we still have honour killings which go to extremes such as one cannot marry a person from the same village in some regions cos they belong to the same “blood” branch(gotra) & hence are “brothers & sisters”-so God forbid if one falls in love-both would be killed-the girl for sure!Even the family is penalised!Other than these there are of course those inter-caste,inter-class,inter-community & horror of horrors inter-religious marriages-which are a complete no-no even in many so called urban centres-sad but true!

  19. A beautiful yet somber piece. Just the feeling of animosity and a brother kills over blood lines yet show “love” by referring to her as their “flower bud”.
    And a side note, absolutely enjoy the painting you picked to go with it.

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