A Poem: Common Things

I can look back to a time when writing poetry was one of the main ways that I had for making sense of the world around me. The creative output from this time in my life actually staggers me – although sometimes I cringe at the quality – I was certainly prolific. I thought I’d share a few poems over the next few weeks, verses that would not otherwise see the light of day; but I’ll start with one of the few that ever got published. This appeared in Emerge, an anthology of poetry, prose and drama, edited by Jude Simpson and Jane Campion and showcasing the work of the Subway Writers group.

Common Things

Some things are fairly common
Like waking up
In a meadow of rolling linen

Hearing over the hills
The breathing of a mate in
The tide of their own dream world

Stopping long enough to mark the
Progress of a shadow across
The yard

Holding a hand under
A running tap waiting
For it to warm

Falling silent on the hour to
Hear the chiming of the outside world
In the newsreader's voice

In saying these things I
Keep your company in
The moments you thought you were alone

11 thoughts on “A Poem: Common Things

  1. I love this. Can expand on the enjambment in the final stanza? I think most people would have written ‘In sayng these things / I keep your company / In the moments you thought you were alone’.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts 🙂

    Coming from you I shall take them seriously.

    Obviously, I use the “enjambment” trick throughout the poem, although thanks to you I just discovered it has an official name and everything. I seem to chop up most of my verse like this, I like the way it trips things along and leads to bizarre combinations of words on paper that make sense only when read out loud.

    I guess the case for breaking the pattern and changing the last stanza could be made from the point of view of signalling the end of the poem? Don’t know … I think I’ll keep it.

    Super to hear from you, and thanks for commenting. We’ll have to look you guys up next time we are South-West. We can exchange notes on freelance editing 😉

  3. I wasn’t suggesting you should change it – far from it! My point was simply that most free verse tends to get broken up where one might pause for breath when reading aloud, whereas you seem to have broken this line just after the breath. My assumption was that you wanted to create the line ‘Keep your company in’ as a separate thing, so that ‘keep’ and ‘in’ act almost like parenthesese around ‘your company’ in a terribly meta-literary/performative kind of way

  4. Jess Dunton says:

    Seymour, I’ve been asked by a friend who is studying Music at university to suggest some poems he could set to music for a song cycle. I’d really like to suggest ‘Common Things’. Would that be OK with you?

      1. Jess Dunton says:

        Marvellous 🙂 I warn you that I have been given no guidance whatsoever as to what sort of poetry he is looking for, so who knows what the outcome will be – he may not like the things I suggest at all! For now, however, I’m going with the idea of the ‘common’ as the collective theme (I’m going to include a poem of mine called ‘Common Law’). Do you have anything else you might like to suggest that would fit with that theme? There’s Ivor Gurney’s lovely poem ‘The Dearness of Common Things’ which fits nicely, but ideally I need a fourth poem. I’m resisting the temptation to write the fourth item myself as (again) I don’t know if it will be wasted effort. Any thoughts?

    1. A couple of suggestions that might lend themselves to lyrical treatment and encompass the theme of “common”:

      Slowly: a plainsong from an older woman to a younger woman (By Judy Grahn) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237426

      Inside My Head (By Robert Creeley) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171578

      and my favourite poet, Craig Raine who I consider to be a master of crystallising the commonplace:

      A Martian Sends A Postcard Home http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-martian-sends-a-postcard-home/ (how would everyday things appear to a visitor from Mars?)


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