In his bedsitter years, he was alone
And all his dreams were haunted by some girl
More wonderful than any precious stone
Who’d bring fulfilment to his empty world.

The loneliness pressed on him, dense as coal.
Thinking of her was all that kept him strong.
She was the magic jewel to save his soul.
And then his life turned round – she came along.

And soon there were commitments, and a brood.
He hardly had a moment to himself.
He hadn’t wanted all that solitude –
But now it seemed like so much squandered wealth.

Those sparkling diamonds of such precious time:
How had he ever failed to see them shine?


David Whippman is a British poet, now retired after a career in healthcare. Over the years he’s had quite a few poems, articles and short stories published in various magazines. 

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13 Responses

  1. David Hollywood

    Its almost painful to read the twist of fate and irony.Very effective sense and description of destiny gone wrong for a person. A smashing poem.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    The term “bedsitter” (referring to a one-room apartment) is less familiar to Americans than it is to British readers. We might say “bachelor years.” However, the one suggestion I would make is that you say “bed-sit” years, as a way to smooth out the meter. “Bed-sit” is a common way to shorten the term in Britain, and it would be easily understood.

    • Dave Whippman

      Good point Joseph. It’s easy to forget that some Brit terms are unfamiliar to US readers.

  3. David Paul Behrens

    I enjoyed this sonnet, about meeting a girl and how it can change your life. This poem reminds me of one I wrote in 1986, long before I gave any thought to meter, syllabic continuity or even punctuation. It entered my head, it rhymed, so I wrote it down.


    You start out with hopes and dreams
    To create art is the purpose and way
    Life does not evolve as first it seems
    Hopes and dreams go somehow astray

    Dreams are replaced by reality
    And nature does take its course
    Soon there is a wife and family
    Their welfare is the driving force

    Soon you become a common man
    Work for money and drive a car
    You lie upon the sand to get a tan
    Absorbing rays from the nearest star

    The ancient ocean used to compel you
    To contemplate existence as a whole
    But the reality of life will soon tell you
    You must act out your existing role

    So why exist here in the first place?
    The question you asked since day one
    It’s to be a member of the human race
    And to enjoy the warmth of the sun

  4. Mark Stone

    David, Hello. 1. I read the first six syllables of the poem and was pleased that I would be reading a poem in anapestic meter (my favorite meter). I learned, by the end of line 1, that the poem is not in anapestic meter. So my suggestion is to not start a poem in a meter that is not the meter of the poem, i.e., with a substitution. Otherwise, confusion and disappointment may ensue. 2. The first eight lines led me to believe that the narrator was talking about a specific girl whom he had already identified. However, the end of the 8th line indicates that this is not the case, since it is only then that he meets her. 3. I haven’t been able to figure out how “now it seemed” works. Perhaps it should be “now it seems,” since both “now” and “seems” indicate present tense. 4. Line 13 is fabulous, with the metaphor of “sparkling diamonds” and the consonance of “sparkling” and “such precious.” Same comment regarding line 7. 5. I wonder if putting line 14 in the simple past tense would work, that is: “How did he ever fail to see them shine?” I think that’s an easier line to say. 6. I like the poem. The message is relevant; the meter is strong and the images (precious stone, coal, magic jewel) are concrete. I do have a reservation about using the word “precious” twice. Bottom line: Nicely done.

    • Dave Whippman

      Thanks for such a detailed comment, Mark. Sometimes it is hard to avoid a bit of ambiguity in such a structured form as a sonnet. But your points are valid. I think the repetition of “precious” just about works, as the word occurs at either end of the poem, not in quick succession.


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