Login   Sign Up 


Girl in the baker`s shop

by James Graham 

Posted: 13 February 2003
Word Count: 74

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

She wears flat shoes and ankle socks; her hair
is almost captured by a clasp. At fifty-five
I wander by, and glance - not stare -
past autumn loaves and tiny vivid cakes
at her oval, perfect face.
I have seen practised smiles, but this,
repeated as may be, seems formed of grace
and innocence.My life's engaged

with the vast necessity to use
my intellect, or spoiled
with correspondence, or the news;
masked therefore beyond semblance
of wooing, and for bread alone,
I visit her surviving excellence.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Anna Reynolds at 18:03 on 16 February 2003  Report this post
I think this ia absolutely beautiful. It's very spare and economical and instantly evocative in conjuring up the ordinary but somehow memorable girl and what she represents. How do you do it?

When did you write this? and do you look back to your work and feel differently about it after a period of time? do you re read your past work? I'm very curious to know.

James Graham at 10:08 on 17 February 2003  Report this post
Yes, I do re-read past work - not only re-read, but revise. I think I said this somewhere before, but if a 'Collected Works' is ever published, and I'm still around, I'd still want to make revisions! Sometimes even a word, the right word rather than the not-so-good one that's already there, will occur to me after several years. I'm not perfectly happy with the last line of 'Girl in a Baker's Shop' but the revision hasn't decided to put in an appearance yet. Maybe it never will.

fran at 20:03 on 10 March 2003  Report this post
I don't think I know how to write about poetry. So apologies in case it is a jarring experience. But I really like this poem; it seems real, I can see it and the use of the lovely word 'grace' and the bit about the bread 'for bread alone' seems bravely self-effacing, as we should be in the face of youth and innocence.

James Graham at 22:19 on 13 March 2003  Report this post
Thank you, Fran. I'm glad you like this poem. It is real! When it was first published, I went into the shop and gave her a complimentary copy, saying I hoped she wouldn't be embarrassed. Far from it. She said, 'That's really nice. I'm really chuffed'. Then I asked for a loaf, and she said, 'Here you are, it's on me'.


Adam at 16:24 on 26 March 2003  Report this post
This poem is both elegant and eloquent. You manage to convey so much in such a concise yet elaborate way. There seems to be a thread of melancholy, even a sense of regret or resignation, which is nicely offset by its subtly beautiful 'grace and innocence', to quote the poem! A real achievement in so few lines! Well done indeed!

Anna Reynolds at 18:54 on 04 April 2003  Report this post
And you got a free loaf. How often do writers get freebies? But I'm interested in her response- some people would be really freaked out by being the subject of a poem. What a lovely response.

fevvers at 13:28 on 01 May 2003  Report this post
Dear James

This is an interesting poem, I like the tone - the quietness. Lovely Italian Sonnet, maybe though look at what the sonnet is doing to your line endings - would you really break some of those lines in the way you have. And also have you thought about rising to the challenge of full, we live in a culture where rhyme is considered too clangy or difficult, but the challenge to a poet should be to make rhyme, especially in such a lovley form, beautiful again and not concealed or pretending to be free-verse. I also wondered if it was a metred line, because if it's iambic pentameter some of the lines need a bit of attention. I love the volta, from everyday experience to meditative experience is a nice link (and leap!) to make. But I agreewith you about the last line. What really is it saying? I think this could be a truly beautiful poem it - reminded me of Paul Farley, which is no bad thing.

Hilary Custance at 17:16 on 02 May 2003  Report this post
James, I must have read a different poem from fevvers; an illustration that what the mind receives is funneled through the existing contents. fevvers may have iambic pentameters and other forms of syntax on the brain. For me this poem spoke of, or rather painted, ambivalence towards the many roles we play in the course of life. The sentence beginning 'My life's engaged ... reached out directly and carried me, with instant recognition, from wish to reality. I particularly like the break after 'engaged' so that in the first moment of reading, your life is for a second swept up in the girl's then, after all, reality kicks in and you can only buy her bread (bread, mark you - not shampoo). To be honest, I was unaware of structure, though I care about it. For me, the best poems are a seamless marriage of content and shape, each supporting the other as this poem does. Hilary

James Graham at 13:45 on 03 May 2003  Report this post
Hi fevvers - Thanks for your interesting comments on rhyme and metre. This poem is best described as an accidental sonnet. It was never intended to be a sonnet, just happened to have 14 lines when it was finished. I've written a few rhymed poems like this, but they always leave me with the feeling that they've been written by someone else. In fact, the rhyme has written them. The need to rhyme alters the poem. Normally I try to avoid rhyme. For support in this I go all the way back to Milton, who thought the rhyming poets of his day expressed things 'for the most part worse than else they would have exprest them' and called rhyme 'the jingling sound of like endings...trivial and of no true musical delight'. Of course, Milton also proved he could write sonnets - and the fact that he'd already done a few rhyming masterpieces gave him more credibility in rejecting rhyme. But Milton was perhaps laying down the law too much, and I wouldn't have the temerity. I always admire a well-crafted rhymed poem.

As for metred verse, I once submitted some poems to a website, and got a rejection based on arithmetic! 'There are 7 feet in line 3, but 11 feet in line 4. Besides, the 3rd and 5th feet in line 7 are irregular...and so on. So I'm a free verse writer, too free at times.

Just as I post this, I see Hilary's reply. Yes, I do think this poem works quite well as it is, and to try to fiddle with the metre or line-endings would just lead to it falling apart. I may yet try a formal sonnet if I can make up my mind to let the rhyme take over and produce an interesting verbal structure which doesn't say what I want it to say.


fevvers at 14:47 on 06 May 2003  Report this post
Dear James

Fair enough. I thought it was an intentional Italian Sonnet, which is exciting, especially with the structure of the stanza break after the octet and the coinciding volta leading to the sestet, but there you go - my apologies

Yes, Hilary's right I do have "iambic pentameters and other forms of syntax on the brain" but this is because I care deeply about poetry - I believe metre (& syntax) is an integral part of formal poetry, and syntax, exciting syntax, is an integral part of free verse - you only have to look at Selima Hill, Jorie Graham and Geoffrey Hill to see this work wonderfully. However you can have an unmetred sonnet or even sonnets that stretch the line metre to breaking point such as some of Marilyn Hacker's or Edna Saint Vincent Millais'.

I know from your profile you don't use rhyme often which I thought was all the more exciting and challenging for using it this time, but I shall be happy to go back and read your poem afresh (without looking at the sonnet inside it.) I say this because I think there is talent in your work.

Ellenna at 17:04 on 03 July 2003  Report this post
Just came across this.. and I am so glad I did. It's just wonderful capturing that almost longing of beholding beauty for its own sake.. made poignant maybe by the fact you state your age!I love this and how you have constructed it. Its pure feeling ...


snoozy at 20:42 on 12 August 2003  Report this post
Hi James,

I love this. You really want to get to know the girl as you write that you glance, not stare, at her implying that the looker is conscious of remaining polite but cannot help but to look all the same even though you do not note her as being beautiful.

It's so simply and cosy. The talk of bread gives a lovely aroma so you can imagine what it was like to be watching the person watching the girl. Fab.

I would love it if you had a chance to look at some of my work, the sites are all full so I've not had much comment and am a complete novice. I would appreciate a bit of criticism.


peterxbrown at 02:23 on 16 August 2003  Report this post
What a beautifully written poem! To my mind you have created an elegant and exciting piece with a rythm and structure which is absolutely true to the emotional and intellectual essence of the poem. You have managed to merge your accute ability to empathise with an honest deep self-knowledge which captures the moment and the feelings. This is emphasised by your attention to detail and a deft touch with language which explores your response to the girl. I love the romanticism, the poem's spirit,the "things" which are going on just below the surface and the originality. I want to buy your book!

Junie Girl at 02:09 on 30 September 2003  Report this post
I am new around here and have just been roaming around enjoying myself reading other peoples work.
I have taken a poetry course but I am not a poet. However, this does not mean that I don't enjoy reading it and your poem about the girl in the bakery shop is lovely. Very descriptive. I can see the fresh, charming youth of the girl. I can smell the wonderful aroma of the baking bread and see the admiration and wistful look in your eyes. Charming!

TassieDevil at 17:32 on 09 January 2014  Report this post
Hello James,
I can see the attraction of your poetry. This particular verse evokes so many emotions in me; joy, guilt, even a sense of loss and envy. I admire your vivid imagery

 her hair is almost captured by a clasp.

and your succinct use of the language.
Thank you for the experience,

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .