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Dappled Light

by Mickey 

Posted: 18 October 2018
Word Count: 128
Summary: Never give up on a good idea! Here is a more considered attempt at a poem in the style of John Betjeman

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In the water meadows hidden
here beneath the willow weeping
   You, the lovely vicar’s daughter
   by the river’s calming water
lay amongst the king cup creeping
sharing love that is forbidden
Locked in amorous embraces
prone, on purple vetch and clover
   not a word between us spoken
   lest the magic should be broken.
After, when the hurry’s over,
dappled light on secret places.

Version 2

In the water meadows hidden
here beneath the willow weeping
   You, the lovely vicar’s daughter
   by the river’s calming water
lay amongst the king cup creeping
sharing love that is forbidden
prone, on purple vetch and clover
locked in amorous embraces
   not a word between us spoken
   lest the magic should be broken
dappled light on secret places
finally your coyness over


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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:22 on 18 October 2018  Report this post
I was hoping you would prove you can do it! At first glance looks very Betjemesque. The group's very busy just now but I'll catch up.


Thomas Norman at 16:40 on 19 October 2018  Report this post
Mike, since reading your last I've read a couple of Betjeman's poems and was pleasantly surprised to discover I quite enjoyed them. I love his rather whimsical style. I think with this little gem you have caught that elusive slant well. It certainly reads well and I love the subject you've chosen. The one point I feel isn't quite right is the final line, it doesn't seem to fit the rest and is somewhat weak; especially for a last line. 


LA at 23:26 on 19 October 2018  Report this post
I love many of Betjeman's poems and I really love this too, Mike! It ticks along so smoothly, it's a joy to read. Oh, and I think the last line works well.


Cliff Hanger at 09:37 on 20 October 2018  Report this post
Hi Mike

I've never read John Betjemen so I can't comment on that . This scene is like a painting rendered in words. I love the weeoping willow and all the flowers. You can see and smell this place in the minds eye. For me the last line isn't an issue but I'm not sure about the preceding one about the hurry. Its like they can't wait to get it over with and I'm not sure that fits the romanticism.


Mickey at 12:15 on 20 October 2018  Report this post
Lesley, Jane, and Thomas

This poem started out as a series of rhyming couplets written in the style of JB and on a typical Betjeman subject.  I realised however that he would never have left anything that simple, so I broke the couplets down to form an ABCCBA form.
He often seems to use the adjective form in place of an adverb and I have tried to include that little idea too.  I find that my mind tends to be a bit more smutty than Sir John’s, so his oft-described distant admiration turns into physical action in my poems!  I have also tried to achieve a kind of single-sentence piece that meanders like the river where these two lovebirds are sat.
I entirely agree with all your reservation regarding the final two lines which were kind of forced on me in order to repeat the ABCCBA form.  I think the problem lies with the fact that I have already alluded to that, up until then, the poem’s a kind of continuous monologue leading up to ‘the event’, whereas the final two lines are a bit of a post-coital disappointment (poetically speaking)  I also wanted to imply the 'secret places' were anatomical as well as geographical!
I’ll go back and try rearranging these lines to see if it can be rescued
Thank you all for your comments

Mickey at 18:32 on 20 October 2018  Report this post
Finally found an alternative that retains the whimsy and partial innocence.  Is this any better?

James Graham at 21:20 on 20 October 2018  Report this post
Hi Mike - I see I've missed some comments from other members, and your revision too. I prefer the first version, as you'll see from the comment below (one I prepared earlier).


Congratulations first on your ‘mirror’ rhyme scheme ABCCBA. Nowadays we tend to accept half-rhymes, but it’s always nice to see spot-on perfect rhymes worthy of Betjeman, or Keats, Dryden, Donne etc etc.
We know that the goings-on here are especially naughty as she is the ‘vicar’s daughter’ and for her all amorous adventures are ‘forbidden’. Yet the context conveys something quite different: the natural surroundings cannot be anything but innocent; the ‘calming’ river flows smoothly. It’s just so idyllic that the vicar’s no-no seems out of place. The lovers are as innocent as the king-cup, the vetch and the clover.
The ending is inspired. ‘Hurry’ is a wonderfully euphemistic word, one word in the poem that strikes me as very Betjemanesque. And in the last line, perfect peace descends.
I have to say I didn’t give much thought as to how Betjemanesque this poem is – because it doesn’t seem to matter. You’ve written a very fine short poem which may show some influence of Betjeman, but when all’s said and done it’s a very good poem in its own right.

PS. You needn't tinker with this poem any more. Version 1 will do very well.

LA at 21:40 on 20 October 2018  Report this post
I agree with James.


Cliff Hanger at 23:38 on 20 October 2018  Report this post
I may have sent you down the wrong track because I don't think the coyness works at all. I'm not convinced by the hurry but seems I'm in the minority.😊

James Graham at 19:43 on 21 October 2018  Report this post
Jane, I can see why you have reservations about ‘hurry’. It’s just possible to read the poem as a romantic scene, but I can’t help seeing it as a very restrained comic scene. Maybe it’s a male perspective and I should try harder to see the female perspective. It’s just these two having crept away when the censorious vicar wasn’t looking, and perhaps having to get it done without wasting too much time. Maybe this is a country parish where one of the local gossips may chance to be walking along the riverbank. ‘Hurry’ is quite a bold word to use, but I think Mike gets away with it.

Thomas Norman at 18:27 on 22 October 2018  Report this post
Hi Mike, I thought your original penultimate line was perfectly right. 'hurry', as James has pointed out is bold and is probably what the lovers would be impelled to do given the circumstances. My only problem was with the final line. Your revised ending loses the plot somewhat. The original idea of dappled and secret were fine but only needed strengthening in some way, But I bow to James's experience, if he says it's okay you can be quite sure it is. Well done, as I said earlier it's a gem. 


V`yonne at 15:34 on 28 October 2018  Report this post
I like version 1. Is it available for Sping's 'Wings'?

Mickey at 15:50 on 28 October 2018  Report this post
Hi all
Thank  you all  for your encouraging (if conflicting) opinions on this piece.  I am pleased with it as a poem and have decided to leave it as the original 'Version 1'  Oonah, feel free to publish - thank you!

V`yonne at 18:24 on 28 October 2018  Report this post
Okay, send it to submissions and I'll pick it up in Spring

FelixBenson at 14:04 on 19 November 2018  Report this post
Very impressive, Mickey.
The line

prone, on purple vetch and clover

is very seductive, as is the tone - quite apt. I know a JB poems and this certainly has echoes, but like James, I think that its about the poem in its own right. You have started thinking about JB as an influence and will have made a hundred tiny decisions between then and the finished poem which makes it all your own. The craft of rhyming  when done well is a pleasure to behold and that is certainly in adundance here.

Mickey at 14:40 on 19 November 2018  Report this post
Thanks Kirsty. I wasn’t expecting any further comments on this so it was especially nice to receive yours - made my day!

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