Twenty-five thousand sonnets, making an average of five a day for the last 14 years, have rolled from the pen of Merrill Moore, research fellow in Psychiatry at the Medical School.
Whether it be riding in the subway, waiting for at traffic light to turn green, or shaving before breakfast, Mr. Moore's productive brain takes but a single minute to compose the 14-line poetry unit which was first utilized by Patriarch and Shakespeare.
He has treated almost every imaginable subject. A few selected at random include, "Her No Meant Yes," "Do Your Christmas Shopping Early," and "Silent Night," "That Faint Oder," and "Summer Evening." All these subjects he treats in a journalese of prose style.
Unlike the classicals, he substitutes assonance for end time. Since almost every possible time has been used already, he argues, the added freedom makes for freshness. Since the mold of sonnet, both in form and rhythm is fixed in his mind, he opens automatically when he has composed 14 lines.
Naturally, such a talent has given Dr. Moore decided views on the teaching of English at Harvard. "Although literary criticism is well-presented," he says, "undergraduate talent is neither encouraged nor utilized. For instance, if there were a few more active poets and authors in the English Department, the Advocate would be a much more creative and experimental publication."
While five sonnets per day is a full-time job for the ordinary mortal, Dr. Moore is not an ordinary mortal. He swims in the annual 12-mile race from Charleston to Boston Light; he is a practicing psychiatrist with offices on Commonwealth Avenue; and he is an instructor at the Medical School. He also found time to get married and is the father of two boys when he reports have little in common with poetry.