poetry critical

online poetry workshop

Bath Time (1949)

First learned to paddle age of three,
slipped from security of mummy's nylon knee
into carbolic coated torpid tepid sea.
Four kettles full, ice from dull brass tap,
surged against legs lathered in Sunlight.
I waded drowning rapids, strong eddies surged on by,
slapped against metal in that ocean filled zinc bath,
buoyed as I splashed and laughed through  tidal
and with nothing but space before and behind,
it seemed I could see for mile after mile.
Yet both my duck and boat were swiftly cleared away,
failed to notice quick sands seep beneath my feet.
Ankle deep in mud, frozen in the glare,
of my mummy's strange and lopsided stare.

30 May 09

Rated 8.7 (8.8) by 5 users.
Active (5): 8, 8, 9
Inactive (1): 9, 9, 10

(define the words in this poem)
(838 more poems by this author)

Add A Comment:
Enter the following text to post as unknown: captcha


love the subtle internal rhymes. I'm kinda drawing a blank trying to understand what your intentions were for this piece? Does he get stuck and his mom doesn't do anything to save him? There is so much about this i'd want to know

well done
 — TCooks

I have always had a fraught relationship with my mother who had a very repressed upbringing. I remember many instances of her disapproval and almost fear, of what she percieved as any liberating force, this was one of many.
 — unknown

I was thinking along those lines but I wanted to be sure.

I really love when mid rhymes are so well embedded they can almost go unnoticed unless read out loud. I should have looked up "eddies" too because I assumed it meant something completely different which changed my interpretation.   At any rate thanks for the poem and for taking the time to dumb it down for me.
 — TCooks

O it is you larry ____ lark. I should have known!
 — TCooks

nice title, it hooked me.  it's like the painting of similar title that my grandmother had hanging in her livingroom; stern looking mothers, dirty children; olden basins, many shades of brown, beige and cream to denote the age.  

this poem interested me, especially the first stanza, which holds clearer imagery, and controlled voice/narration than the second half (in my opinion).  ideas that came to me instantly were to drop 'soap' from line 5.  i love that you have capitalized "Sunlight" to name the brand, but i don't think you need to say soap, and it cuts into the nice rhythm you have going.  without sayingn 'soap', we are given a chance to reflect on our own, and its absence also allows a double meaning, which is nice.  

'wrapped' to me is a bit of an oddity in reference to 'lather', which is what i'm gathering, but it works for sunlight i suppose.  i wonder why you didn't use 'lather', is it too simple?  i would think it a nice sounding choice to go with legs/sunlight.  just a thought.

"how certainly" is reading strange, maybe it's 'certainly, and perhaps there might be a better alternative, or even better, no replacement at all, just 'i waded..."
actually, i'm having a hard time with S2 because i really do think it's a bit of a mess, and i don't want to carry on and on when you probably don't want me to.  hell, i'm going to.
"strength sapping"  a clearer choice for a little boy in a big rough tub might be 'drowning rapids' or something like that?
"rattling" is another odd word choice for water.
"buoyed" it sticks out hard on me (lol)
i think you're using too many references to the sea, and it's bogging the poem down a little; i like where you're going with the boy in the big sea, but...it's sinking?

L8 would take an interesting turn if you split up tidal wave.  allow 'wave' to begin L9.  "laughed through a tidal
waves with nothing but space" ? just a thought that came while reading it.
i would remove the period in L10 if you're going to follow with 'yet'.
i'd also consider removing 'toy' and 'forlorn', thinking neither of these words need modifying.  'were', L11 is uneccesary; takes away from the command of 'cleared'.
consider removing 'trapped', as frozen works wonderfully on its own.
i love the final lines.

thanks for putting up with my long-winded crit.
it's a nice poem and i love where it's coming from, just think it could be
tightened up a bit.  

i always liked your boyhood life-poems larry.
thanks. =-)
 — jenakajoffer

Thanks for the excellent crit jenakajoffer, which has helped me to improve this poem. I am most grateful for your close scrutiny

Larry with a little help from my friends Lark
 — larrylark

Dear TC

The pleasure was all mine

Larry bath time Lark
 — larrylark

Poor little thing...  I was there.  Three year old's are magical in the bath, as we know, yes?  I mourned the loss of a moment there, as a mother of a son.  Larry, I'm shit at critting, cause there's really nothing in this I want to crit.  It helped me feel, and see - a snippet - and the poem is powerful, because it touched me.  Thanks.  Wonderful.
 — CervusWright

you're welcomist, larry
i'm happy you found some of my wind useful.
just thinking line 10 needs to be brought up with
line 9, so that wave is not alone. therefore you may drop the 'and'.
'wave with nothing', sorta what i meant.
thanks for posting this, and sharing your adorable duck.
Jen =-)
 — jenakajoffer

Hi cervus

I am trying to grope my way towards an ultimate touching poem

Larry feeling it all Lark
 — larrylark

Thanks once more jenaka for giving me even more to muse on

Larry open to suggestions Lark
 — larrylark

Comma after miles and you have two spaces between "my" and "duck."  I really like this, but what throws me off in the reading is the rhyme in the first three lines, then no rhymes in the rest of the poem.  My opinion would to be consistant one way or the other.  Also perhaps a comma after "full" in line 4.
 — PaulS

haha!  I can see this little person having bath adventures!  The only thing I'm wondering about is the carbolic - that seems quite harsh for a little man's bath.

I love this.
 — Isabelle5

Dear PaulS

I rhymed the first three lines to represent the nursery rhyme sunshine memories many feel when they think back to their early days spent with mum having stories read, taken to the park, bath time etc but then the poem starts to break away into more turbulant waters which needed another form of poetic expression. Thanks for the spots and thanks for reading

Larry tub thumping Lark
 — larrylark

I never learned from those experiences Isabelle once bathing my girls when they were little in cheap washing up liquid which turned their skin a firey red from the waist down as they sat playing in it. Needless to say i was chased round the house and given a good thumping by opal for my pains

Larry tries his best but its never good enough Lark
 — larrylark