Ragged Beauty

Ragged Beauty


I worked in the poorer quarter,

I saw much but knew little more,

I watched like the watchman waiting,

At the closed and the hard bolted door.


I suppose she had not turned forty,

But a century bore her down,

Beset by her truanting children,

In the slums of the shadowing town.


Perhaps she had been a beauty,

Perhaps she had danced until dawn,

But now she was older and empty,

In a dress that was dirty and torn.


My mind rushed to past lives and lovers,

When the world was a spectre of light,

As we laughed and we sang in the moonlight,

And the future was hopeful and bright.


It was chips and some scraps for her children,

Though she could have nothing at all,

No coins in her purse or her pocket,

And none there to answer her call.


And I with abundance ignored her,

Though it’s true I had plenty to spare,

A plenty to do what I please with,

But not enough plenty to care.


And I know when I gaze from my window,

Onto sun-scented meadow and cott,

That there in the shadowing township,

Are realities better forgot.


For I will and I want to change nothing,

What I do will defend what I know,

And I have no reason to tear down one stone,

In the place where the ragged ones go.


And yet there is something inside me,

That orders my life to atone,

For a mother with truanting children,

Who is lost and so very alone.


Perhaps and perhaps and then maybe

I’ll do something and nothing today,

For there’s always the sun-scented meadow,

When these shadows have faded away.

◄ Eyes On A Winter Page

A Time For Snowdrops ►


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M.C. Newberry

Sun 29th Jan 2012 02:15

Not sure about WP's re-worked first line in his
specimen. Using the rhythm adopted it would
seem that "kids" should replace "children" which, to me, sounds slightly awkward in the context.
The author's choice of "It was chips and some
scraps for her children" uses the cadence of "some scraps" to lead comfortably to "children"...while keeping the balance of
the line itself.

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winston plowes

Sat 28th Jan 2012 13:50

Surely what is happening her is that people are just as entitled to constructively criticise as much as others are entitled to ignore them :-). For me, I liked the images and words when they were stronger than the rhyme. i.e.

Chips and scraps fed both her children,
Though she could have nothing at all,
No coins in her purse or her pocket,
And none there to answer her call.

Notice that I have changed the first line here to try and remove the 'it was'. In other cases it can be an 'and' or a 'so' which pull up the reader and seem like fillers slotted in to maintain rhyme. I think its well worth puzzling over, to see if any of these small changes can be made as they really improve things in terms of flow and quality in what is a good poem.

Thx for posting Ian


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Sat 28th Jan 2012 10:11

Lots of differing opinions Ian - it's great that your poem should have stimulated that. So much on here goes uncommented on.

I hope Ray and I didn't seem overly negative. We both don't mind others suggesting improvements on ours so tend to think others won't also. It takes a little time to work out who welcomes crit and who doesn't.

Isobel x

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John Coopey

Fri 27th Jan 2012 22:23

Do what you do, Ian. You do it very well.

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Ian gant

Fri 27th Jan 2012 18:19

All of my work is categorised by rhythm and rhyme never succumbing to what I see as the mental ease of ‘free verse’

I place commas where I do to emphasise the intended insistent beating rhythm that pervades all my imaginative writing.

No apologies there then,


Ian G.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 27th Jan 2012 15:56

As a writer of verse, I give due credit for the
care and patience required to find the right
word that also fits the rhythm of the lines as
well as the sentiment (not to be confused with "sentimental") being expressed.
This is one of the reasons why rhyme can be
so challenging. And this poem has its share.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 27th Jan 2012 15:47

Except for observing that a full stop or two -and maybe the occasional semi-colon might replace the comma, I sense that the traditional nod is being paid to grammar here.
Personally, I find the imaginative "picture" drawn by the use of words in this respect overrides any technical quibbles.
A touching and well judged vignette of the human condition.

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Dave Bradley

Fri 27th Jan 2012 13:53

I'm not sure about the technical stuff, Ian, but I loved the care and thoughtfulness in this poem.

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Fri 27th Jan 2012 13:53

Forgot to say owt about the poem. It's really hard to do rhyme and rythm so I take my hat off to all who achieve it. I find the pace in this a bit too rythmic for the subject matter though. I want to feel pathos and sorrow but I'm going at a canter and it doesn't sit together - not sure if I'm expressing myself well. For some reason, some subject matters just work better in free verse. It's not easy to do if you like rhyming though - I struggle with that problem, myself.

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Fri 27th Jan 2012 13:47

But then I don't think you really need the 'and' either Ray.

I understand what you are saying about commas. Sometimes a poem with too much punctuation can seem buttoned up and there is a natural pause introduced by the line breaks anyway.

I'd go with getting rid of the commas and the capital letters at the start of all the 2nd, 3rd 4th lines.

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Ray Miller

Fri 27th Jan 2012 12:47

I wouldn't fault the rhythm and the rhyme, but all those commas! I noticed it before in a poem of yours - almost a fetish!Many just aren't neccessary, others can be supplanted like so

I worked in the poorer quarter

and saw much but knew little more,

to produce something more flowing. Not meaning to be presumptuous, only helpful.

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