The ‘Ballad’ Of The School-Day Morn

Childhood, Other Poetry, Parenting Add comments

Hello 🙂

Today I was looking at the description of ‘epic‘ poems, and something I wrote in November 2016 popped into my head.  It doesn’t fit within the ‘epic’ parameters as there are no heroic deeds (other than getting two children to school/nursery on time…) and the rhyming scheme is not compliant, but something about epic poetry being a story brought that older work to mind.

I wanted to share it with you anyway, so I dug it out (that took a while as I hadn’t realised just how many notebooks I had gone through since I started this crazy idea of writing a poem every day…I need to catalogue them properly with the dates on the front, etc!).  A lot of the beginning of my poem jarred me because it went from quasi-blank verse into one rhyming scheme half way through, and then progressed into a more complicated one still!

I tweaked the first 20 lines into a second and fourth line rhyme scheme (5 sets of four lines), then tightened up a few rhymes from the 21st line onwards – where I keep the second and fourth line rhyming at the ends, but also have an internal rhyme in the first and third lines!! (Still with me?!)

Why the rhythm changes within the work?  I did it subconsciously when I wrote it originally, then realised that I had changed to the internal rhymes just when the children and I had left the house in the story, so it was mirroring our need to keep moving/the sound of our steps on the ground. 


I just go with what flows, according to my poetic ear at the time, usually, and add a dash of logic later 😉

This being the case, I thought it might be an idea to look at the syllable count per line that I had ended up with, and figure out if what I had created was any recognised form of narrative poetry.

I keep coming up against metrical terms as I look deeper into poetry, and I must admit that it still all fuddles my mind.  I read Wikipedia’s take on the Lyric and was lost in the realms of di and tri syllables (see the table in this Wikipedia entry for why I am a tad bamboozled) and their corresponding names and significances! 

I feel a bit like a fraud!! 

If a poetic line doesn’t scan, I know.  Just don’t ask me to explain the technical reasons as to why it annoys me, ok?!

I looked at the Ballad form, and found that the rhyming scheme abcb matched mine, but the number of syllables to a line is waaay ‘off’ in my work.  A Ballad is supposed to go 8-6-8-6 or employ ‘fourteeners‘ and, as you can see from the grey numbers in brackets after each of my lines, mine go 11or12-8or9-11or12-8or9; with a few lines of 10 syllables thrown in for good measure.  

Shall history consign my work to dust or hail me a rebellious genius?? I’m not sure, but here’s the poem anyway:



We gathered, as usual, at dark Monday window, (12)

Reflections of us in the glass. (8)

The children spun ‘round in the curtain, I turned; (11)

Tried hard not to get too harassed. (8)

We marvelled at fog, as we watched Daddy leave, (11)

Strained to see through the murk and our light. (9)

My eldest, excited, pondered if Daddy had (12)

Done one extra wave, out of sight… (8)


The kids ran off to play, a large box a ramp; (11)

Whizzing cars, comparing distance. (8)

I dried off my hair, put the buggy outside (11)

Scrubbed at tough shoe-mud resistance. (8)

Their playtime now done, boys careered back through, (10)

Refused to succumb to their coat zips; (9)

I bargained and shouted, and cajoled and kissed (11)

(Wrestled wriggly toddler’s strap clips) (9)


Our bags all accounted for, clock on the run (11)

We set off: two walking, one rolling; (9)

Our breath adding weight to the mist all around, (11)

And thankful for all our warm clothing. (9)


Blue eyes to the sky, my eldest asked why  (10)

While within it, the ‘cloud’ wasn’t thicker;  (10)

As I pointed out, behind us had a shroud,  (11)

And the road ahead, seemingly, flickered.  (10)


Eldest’s chatter went on, his brother hummed a song,  (12)

The cacophony making me edgy;  (10)

Combined as it was, with a street-sweepers buzz  (11)

(The pavement in front being sedgy(9)

A pungent whiff of earth, cut through their mirth,  (10)

Both boys asking now what it could be; (9)

I said it was soil (patience starting to spoil)  (11)

Brushes having churned up boundaries.   (9)


Eldest took this in, with a slow little grin,  (11)

Proclaiming it clever to do that.  (9)

(He likes getting to see what lies under his feet,  (12)

Visualising the layers of our planet).    (10)

Fog and a dandelion clock hot air balloon

As the cars muffled by, Eldest expounded why  (12)

(‘case we’d missed it) this spot looked so clear  (10)

Still pushed for time, I said “don’t look behind”,  (10)

And “try to stay focussed, my dear”.  (9)


The bundled up kid, in the buggy, outdid  (11)

Himself in the vocal department:  (9)

As the traffic lights loomed, and his mummy fair zoomed –   (11)

A new warble he started to invent.  (10)

Eldest was amused, thought his brother confused,  (11)

And suggested a ditty less gaga; (10)

Buggy boy got annoyed, and again raised his voice,  (12)

Soon those kids were crooning a cappella…  (10)


Playing-field wall in view, Eldest’s out breath blew:  (11)

“I think the fog is the most at the school”  (10)

Buggy boy bobbed his head, and no more was said:  (11)

With such wise words it’s best not to fool.  (9)

Through those green gates we raced, the brothers embraced,  (11)

And went off to their separate haunts;  (9)

Little brown eyes, big blue – my adorable two  (12)

To face their own educational jaunts.  (10)


I hugged buggy boy tight, and tweaked his jumper right,  (12)

Then watched him just starting to play.  (8)

I don’t like to leave, but Eldest receives  (10)

My big hug, too, before his school day.  (9)

I wave and I smile, chat to mums for a while,  (11)

And I notice the fog is still there;  (9)

Hungry to consume: people, feelings, and soon  (11)

Two sweet children I have in my care.  (9)


I slowly walk home (Leonard Cohen, headphones)  (11)

Empty-buggied, with only one bag  (9)

Quick looks on and behind, and yes, I still find:  (11)

All that’s clear is the patch I impact.  (9)



[Pic is from here]

Come visit the Facebook page and follow @ComfyRestless on Twitter

Copyright © 2018  Montaffera All Rights Reserved

Please do not use any of my content (posts, pictures, poetry etc) without my permission, but feel free to link back to my blog if something catches your eye. Thank you!

Leave a Reply