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The importance of stories & the progress of our species

There is Hope for Every Child Ever Born

Wardley Barry at work
Ward Barry - master poet


There is hope for every child ever born
under city lights or kerosene lamps.
God is fair, our paths with dreams he adorns.

The homeless, recruited young to be tramps,
children scavenging among rubbish bins,
sheltering under drains or shanty camps;

the child spotting its mum’s eyes and dad’s chins,
cradled in white gossamer blankets,
garbed and magnified in lustrous satins.

Each child, at birth, was welcomed with trumpets
sounded by angels of the sacred choir,
whether they were born of saints or strumpets,

love bestowed upon us savage desire
and a long train of unspeakable dreams;
that give us wings to navigate the fire.

Our Father records every labour screams,
there is hope for every child ever born.
So smile when everything is gone, it seems.
God is fair, our paths with dreams he adorned.


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Ward Barry

Thanks all. Your suggestions are gladly noted. Cheers!

Michael Dom

Japanese mathematics would simply be universal, Paul, since there is only one mathematical language.

That is a whole field of philosophy in itself. I’m not fit for it, so I’ll stick to poetry, or more correctly, poems.

So let’s look at the poem before us.

I find this modified villanelle a bit choppy, Wardley, as if it's not quite finished yet.

Your key first verse is almost accomplished. I'm not about to count syllables or edit for you - that's your business and we both know it, poet.

'There is hope for every child ever born
under city lights or kerosene lamps.
God is fair, our paths with dreams he adorns.'

The first two lines are a great starting point. However, if 'under' was replaced by 'beneath' the syllable count would remain the same, and thus create alliteration with 'born'.

What's more, if you replaced 'under' with 'below' a much richer internal music would resound, since elsewhere there are the words "bin, blankets, birth and bestow".(Also in verse 2 replace under with beneath. Also suggest using 'in' not 'or' in the same line.)

I'd rather have picked 'below' to work with.

Also, the third phrase 'God is fair, our paths with dreams he adorns' is out of rhythm - the syllable count is right but not the feet, i.e. where the stresses should be.

Try rewording that because it's a core phrase of your poetic thought.

Moreover, in this poetic form of repeated lines this line is the "power" phrase, so it needs to have impetus.

It may be best to define what you mean by 'God is fair', since that is your core philosophical statement about children born into either privilege or poverty each having dreams for their various futures.

For example, you might say, 'Rich or poor, each secret dream God adorns'.

That also opens up the scope for your conclusive phrase in line 19.

In verse 3 I think there's too much focus on the rich baby’s bed clothes. And I’m not sure about “the child spotting its mum’s eyes and dad’s chins,”

Compare verse 3 – relying on adjectives – with the preceding verse 2, where you really nail the poor baby’s filthy living conditions – food and housing; solid images, building on each other – mostly verbs.

For Line 1 of verse 2 try “Homeless, recruited at birth to be tramps”.

The next two verses 4 and 5 should be in the present tense, where you want to return the philosophical argument to the here and now. So, ‘is welcomed’ and ‘are born’, ‘love bestows’ and I’m not sure if ‘unspeakable’ is the right word in context, perhaps ‘unreachable’?

And also may be…’dreams; / which gives us wings to rise above the fires’.

These are a few of my thoughts for your consideration.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Good advice Ward.

PS - should 'that'd' be 'that's' Chips.

'Fair God our paths with dreams adorn' maybe?

Paul Oates

Totally agree Chips. There's nothing like iambic pentameter to resonate with the brain.

Sorry, Michael. Japanese mathematical niceties don't do much for me.

Chips Mackellar

Wardley, you are among the most gifted of PNG poets. Unlike others who make no attempt at traditional poetry, your poems do rhyme and they do tell a story. In this particular poem, the story is hope at birth.

However in this poem the rhythm is a little bit off kilter, with some lines having variously 8, 9 and 10 syllables. It is easy to fix, just by substituting other words with similar meanings or in the same context.

So with the greatest respect for your talent, I have rewritten the first part of your poem with a balanced rhythm, with each line containing eight syllables. May I suggest that this might be of some use to your future poems:

There's hope for every child that'd born
Under city lights or kerosene lamps
God will our paths with our dreams adorn
While homeless seek our young as tramps
And children all scrounging all forlorn
Living in drains and shanty camps
Each child's birth announced with trumpets
By the Holy Choir and Gabriel's Horn
Whether born of saints or poor strumpets
There is hope or every child that's born.

With best wishes, Wardley.

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