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by Nell 

Posted: 23 April 2004
Word Count: 84
Summary: Poem inspired by Anna Akhmatova's Willow. I didn't achieve exactly what I strove for - the poem seemed to take over and refused to conform. Any suggestions for improvement welcome.

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I was a child in a storybook
With words and pictures running through my head.
My every action accompanied by a half-murmured commentary
That continued throughout those early years
Of light and warmth and love.
Sometimes the child in my story
Made someone to share those adventures.
A longed-for ideal.
And one day he came into being.
But with his birth everything
Changed, and the words and pictures became
Not mine. The sun disappeared
Behind the clouds and I
Closed the book...The story died.

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Comments by other Members

roovacrag at 12:27 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Such a moving poem.

At first it took me back to my childhood,reading stories and poem.
Wanting to be there,in the pages.

Last part was sad.
Sure you want the story to die?

You said, with his birth everything changed.
The sun should not go behind a cloud,nor should a book close,life is a luxury we should all enjoy.
A story never dies,lives on in a memory.

Well done.
xx Alice

miffle at 14:27 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Nell, I liked this very much... I'm the oldest of 3 in my family and I could relate to this... I read it as the kind of feelings a first child might have when a brother or sister comes along... i.e. ambivalent. Yes, one story closes (and their is a feeling of loss, grief for that) and another more complex one opens... And I think there may be perhaps a feeling of disenchantment, betrayal - and a thought, sometimes, like 'wasn't I enough for you?!' A feeling of dispossession, of something specially yours ('the words and the pictures became not mine') being taken away and you don't quite feel ready to share books, or toys or affections, not yet... Great stuff! Nikki ;-)


whoops, 'there is a feeling...'

Skeetr at 17:47 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Nell, really lovely, sad yet sweet. Nikki's said all I'd had in mind to say re: sounding like the ambivalence of the oldest child. You captured the tone and ambiance of the Akhmatova poem very well.

Good stuff,


Nell at 18:19 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Alice, miffle, Smith,

Thank you all for the comments. I guess I did feel like that for a while, although I'd forgotten until I began to write the poem.

Is there a way to know when free verse is right, or is it a gut feeling? I'm never at all sure if I've made the poem work or not, although I do seem to 'know' with the poems of others, even if I'm not up to giving constructive criticism with any confidence. James Graham's article on site is brilliant, and something to work with and be guided by, but if anyone has any suggestions for improvement, or thinks that something doesn't work, please say as I really want to learn the craft/art.

Skeetr at 18:29 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Nell, as to your free verse question -- I've had the same one in mind for months! (possibly years!).

I've no answer myself, but am currently (slowly) reading a book called Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody by Charles O. Hartman that purports to crack the great mystery for me (at least that's what it says on the tin). If over the next couple of weeks as I plow through it he says something brillig, I shall come back here and let you know...

Until then, I'm all ears as to what others suggest, for it often seems as if free verse if rule-less and a matter of imparting a sense of personal rhythm.

roovacrag at 20:47 on 23 April 2004  Report this post
Nell ,
poetry comes from the heart and the gut.
It is not planned or performed it just happens.

Most of mine are written in minutes ,not hours or days like some.

Like watching a bee flit from flower to flower,just collecting what gives us the honey.

xx Alice


Doesn't have to rhyme so long as it makes sense.:-))

gard at 14:22 on 24 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Nell

thanks for your comment on my JJ attempt.

I'd like to get more insight into what works best in Free Verse too..........

Regards this piece I agree with the sibling arrival comments from Miffle. Well, as a piece of free verse I think this is really good. The length is just right. It does not linger on the message for too long, thus removing any risk of banality, and in addition gives more drama to the content. The imagery is very clear (concrete) and the overall feeling of the piece
works and is ended so aptly with the last line.


Nell at 14:39 on 24 April 2004  Report this post
Gard and Alice, thanks for all your thoughts, which help muchly. Alice, I do understand what you mean about poetry just happening, although sometimes when I return to a piece I find myself changing a word here or there and feel sure I've improved it! Some do 'just happen' and remain as first written - and although it's difficult to know if they work for others, like fiction, leaving them for a while seems to help.

Hilary Custance at 09:15 on 19 July 2004  Report this post
Nell, this moved me. I know about dreaming dreams and making them come true and then they take on their own life and dispose of it without your permission. I haven't had time to read others comments, but I think you have written well about a difficult truth that most of encounter at one level or another, Cheers, Hilary

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