“Sometimes” by Sheenagh Pugh

The English Department of St Columba’s College, Whitechurch, Dublin 16, Republic of Ireland writes:

“…Poem of the Week is Sheenagh Pugh’s ‘Sometimes’….she gives permission to publish it on blogs, but also writes:-

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.

I think most people read it wrong. When read carefully, it says sometimes things go right, but not that often, and usually only when people make some kind of effort in that direction. So it isn’t blithely and unreasonably optimistic. But a lot of people read it that way, which means I didn’t write it well enough – the writer can always make the readers see what he wants them to if he does the job right. Also I know, because language is my job, that I have written poems in which the use of language is simply a lot more interesting and imaginative than it is there. So it bugs me now and then that this is the only one a lot of people think I’ve ever written.

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.

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