dverse · poetry · sonnet · Uncategorized

Village Pastoral — revision 2 of 1

coal town

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Village Pastoral


Here is the latest revision, using enjambment:


Each morn, sun’s rise, she passes a dog, long dead,

bloated, rotting roadside; its sick stench,

maggot’s perfume, cause ripe wretching and swoon.

She prays for rain to wash it all away.

Town’s well; wives talk, pails rise, smiles fall, eyes slip

to blued finger dots down Ruth’s pale thin arm.

Sunrise stumbles down mud encrusted streets

while eggs and pork sizzle in a cast iron pan.

Water, boiled with ash, dries the croup — and tears that

climbed the hill with six still, pine boxes; she knows

he dreams while blasting seams, of sons to carry

on; his grimed face at day’s end holds tired hope.

We sailed from hell, starved, full of sin, but glad

Sunday reminds us, stained souls, contrite, are cleaned.


This was before adding enjambment:

Coming, going each morn, each afternoon

Dead dog, rancid, bloated on the roadside

Sick stench, like rosebud’s perfume, makes me swoon.

Praying for rain, float on, unwelcome hide


Courtyard’s well, where villagers’ buckets meet

Counting bruises on Mrs. Leary’s arms

Sunrise stumbles down mud encrusted streets

Fried eggs, bacon grease, tea, good wife’s best charms


Boiled water and lye keep the croup at bay

Six still, pine boxes upon Chapel Hill

Grimy from the mines, washes smudge away

Please give us a son, finds strength to thrust still


Our journey from hell to new hills of green

Sunday service reminds, souls are made clean


61 thoughts on “Village Pastoral — revision 2 of 1

  1. You’ve painted such a gloomy picture of the village, Jade. Immediately in the first stanza there’s a ‘Dead dog, rancid, bloated on the roadside’ and in the second stanza the women are ‘Counting bruises on Mrs. Leary’s arms’. How anyone managed to survive all the violence, sickness and poverty back then, I’ll never understand. But then, we are seeing it all now in these so-called modern time and we are supposed to be civilised.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like the unique subject and the style of short parts, like images of the struggle of the past (maybe still is somewhere).. just shows that a sonnet subject can be anything.

    If I would give you one advice (since you asked for it) maybe a stronger volta in the end where you break the grime with something graceful… (just a little thought)

    Know I should have done the same with my own sonnet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. a dreary scenario but you paint it well with words. the end of each stanza bleeds the heart a little more each time i read it, you truth slices, so well written and I salute the theme you have chosen. a difficult theme for a difficult form, somehow they all come together with your choice of words.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Tao-Talk,
    Let’s start with what I like:

    (1) The subject matter — very rich. Having lived in poorer parts of Asia and visited poor parts of Central America, I can feel some of this poem.
    (2) I am glad you stuck to rhyme, a sonnet without rhyme seems silly.
    (3) The story was so promising. And the turn at the end was cool — almost a haiku. But … Se my critique below.

    My critique:
    I’m a stickler for plain, unhidden poetry, so take my thoughts in light of that. Many people love scattered things. It is, however, a montage to me, with many references unfortunately lost — I wished I’d learned more. Bjorn tells us “If you like it would be interesting if you added a short note about your thoughts when writing the sonnet. The comments will be a part of the book in the end.” So I suggest you and a little story explaining the poem to help us. But my preference is that a poem not need too much explaining.
    Who is Mrs. Leary, who is the wife, what is unwelcome “hide” (is that a verb or noun?). Who prays for son? See, difficult for me, yet so promising and great images. Well, that is me. Many probably love the elusive.

    BTW, when reading the comments, I could not see that anyone understood it any more than myself except as a inside-story montage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sabio, thank you very much for taking the time to read the sonnet and to give your pros and cons on it. Will absolutely consider what you’ve said and try to either add a short introduction or tweak it to be more transparent/plain. Maybe nobody “got” it…. Thank you again for the feedback.


      1. I see your addition. That helps indeed, but my favorite poetry is that which does not need a story to decode. So my challenge would be to write a poem which is basically self-sufficient and not mysterious or confusing. This story, btw, is not an experience of yours, but of whom? My other bias is that I prefer personal poetry, not fiction, but many disagree with me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I again appreciate your feedback, Sabio. It is very much appreciated, thank you. If you want to check out some of my other poetry, I’ve got it tagged at tao-talk. Maybe you will see one or two that are more “self-sufficient and not mysterious or confusing”. That said, maybe I’ll try that on one of the prompts at d’Verse and see what happens. About poetry being personal or fiction, my belief is that there is room for both.


    1. I think the enjambed one is way way better. Once the formal “end rhyming” constraint was removed, it was easier to work on the rhythm, and rhyming ended up coming in of its own accord. The meaning seems more clear and less disjointed as well. What are your thoughts about the two?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In truth, I like both and am hard pressed to place one above the other. They stand well on their own merit and are wonderful examples of how you have used the poet’s tools to work and rework your excellent writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. First I do think the last two lines made the volta much stronger… to struggle on, and live… reminding me of how important those days of rest are most important if you live in grim circumstances. I think that the enjambment added a lot to the flow— great to see you work with your poem

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This poem paints a time and place vividly, both versions stand fully on their own without need for additional context or explanation. A poem is not a short story or a novel, but an experience, a glimpse into a time and place . Sometimes they do tell fully drawn out stories, like Glen’s western epic or Homer’s I Iliad, but this paints a picture precisely and vividly, I feel like I know essential corners of this place and struggle and dreams of this family, so in this, I disagree respectfully with the prior comments calling for more narrative, that would make a cool story, but not necessary for the purpose of a sonnet. I love love the rhythm of the second version, the smoothness gives a structural contrast to the rugged life that might actually heighten the terror. I do like the first Volta and reconciliation a tad better though, but I am a sucker for traditional rhyming in those last two lines, I think a rhyme clinches the wind up punch line so powerfully, and the “green” “clean” rhyme really nailed that home for me, and it is such a sweet ending, all that wretched mess in life, but the spirit can still take time to hope for a better world. LOTS and LOTS of superb humanity here, even among the understated grief implied in the pine boxes. But I love the second Volta also. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lona, your feedback makes me feel better about them in that there is a hope that the feelings were expressed clearly enough to be understood. Your articulating ability is appreciated very much! Thank you for your time in looking at them ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m finding it hard to comment on the form, because the content is so powerful. I think that both pieces are strong – and very moving. I didn’t need more explanation – a poem isn’t necessarily a complete story, for me, sometimes it can be a series of images to be pieced together. I thought the volta was strong enough in the first piece, and I liked the full rhyme there. In the second piece the rhyme wasn’t quite strong enough, and I felt it drifted a little bit too far from the form. I’m not sure that matters, in some ways, because it’s such an evocative piece in its own right.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A complex, deep poem for sure – yet I believe I ‘got’ it and that it needs no further explanation. I like both versions; perhaps yet another rewrite with the best features of each would be better still? Enjambment is not a requirement, it was a suggested in order to get away from too much of a ‘sing-song’ effect; but enjambment too can be forced (just as rhyming can) to the detriment of a poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rosemary, I very much appreciate your feedback. I haven’t looked at them since the revision, but I may try to synthesize them and see what happens. Again, thank you 🙂


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