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Sometimes -- Sheenagh Pugh

An antidote of sorts to last week's poems on depression:
(Poem #874) Sometimes
 Sometimes things don't go, after all,
 from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
 faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
 Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

 A people sometimes will step back from war,
 elect an honest man, decide they care
 enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
 Some men become what they were born for.

 Sometimes our best intentions do not go
 amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
 The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
 that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.
-- Sheenagh Pugh
[Commentary from the Poet]

I wasn't ever going to put this on my site, because I'm sick of it. But I
still get a lot of email asking for information about it so perhaps this
will save time! Besides, it appears on a lot of people's web sites,
generally misquoted - at least this will be as it's meant to read. I wrote
it back in the eighties and it appeared in my Selected Poems, which has
recently been reprinted by Seren, whom you can contact at.

It was then included in Poems on the Underground and has since appeared on
the trams of Helsinki and the Metro in St Petersburg (there's a good Russian
translation on Vitali Ashkinazi's web site. Actually I prefer Vitali's
version to the original and one day I might translate it back).

It featured in a BBC Radio 4 programme called The Secret Life of Poems. It
has been used by several charities and political organisations, including
Charter 88 (for refugees); it has been read during the Irish peace
negotiations and in the South African parliament, has been set to music by
several people and quoted in other books (most lately appearing in the
autobiography of the man in the white suit, Martin Bell).

Despite all this, it wasn't political, nor is it about depression, though a
lot of clinically depressed people think it is. It isn't even basically very
optimistic. It was originally written about a sportsman who had a drug
problem and it expressed the hope that he might eventually get over it -
because things do go right sometimes, but not very often... But it isn't
anywhere near skilful or subtle enough and I would cheerfully disown it, if
people didn't now and then write to me saying it had helped them. By the
way, you might also care to know that I originally wrote "the sun will
sometimes melt a field of snow" (the sportsman's drug of choice was
cocaine). But I mistyped "sorrow" for "snow" and then decided I liked that
better. I believe in letting the keyboard join in the creative process now
and then. Anyway, here's the text, and if you like it, I'm pleased for you,
but I'd be more pleased if you liked something else better!

        -- Sheenagh Pugh,
[broken link]

[Commentary from Me]

This is the sort of poem that puts a gleam into the eyes of manufacturers of
greeting-cards everywhere <grin>.

No, I take that back. The fact that commercialization often cheapens true
emotion should not be used to denigrate the emotion itself. And the poem
_is_ a good one: sincere, honest, and more than a little bit touching. Not
overly subtle (the poet herself deprecates it for this reason), but it
doesn't have to be; it says what it wants to say beautifully and well. Who
could ask for more?



Sheenagh Pugh has a website, [broken link]
We've run one poem of hers before, "The Beautiful Lie". It's archived at
poem #792

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