Writings and Witterings

Ten Pound Migration


You may have seen the poem that I called Ten Pound Poms for the Australian (Bowlesian) Sonnet on K. McGee’s blog; I’m enjoying trying out these new [to me at least!] forms … but have to admit that I find some of them rather constraining.  Not entirely happy with my best efforts at putting my thoughts into the Australian Sonnet, I have rewritten the poem as I might have written it without the form in mind and I’ve re-titled it too to differentiate between the two of them.  I’d love to have your thoughts on which you prefer and why … this aspect of writing intrigues me … form is fascinating, but here, my own voice wanted to break free and I just couldn’t leave it alone.


Ten Pound Migration

Crowds line the docks in the nineteen fifties,
Waiting to sail to a new land, they’re thrifty;
They’ve paid just a tenner to get on the ship
And want a lot more than just a round trip.
A land called Australia arouses their dreams,
They think with nostalgia of Britain, it seems.
Passports in hands, papers in luggage,
They yearn for the new world, new life, new mortgage.
They spurn the old world, the doled world, the cold world,
They are excited, celebrating …
Citizenship promised after only one year,
And warmth, their skin, bones, eyes become clear,
Some will be famous in due course perhaps,
The new life that beckons is free of all traps,
And they dream of fame on the stage or in government,
The future is bright and there will be betterment,
The scheme extends to other nations,
Many, it seems, seek a change of location,
“Please stay for two years or refund the money,”
This is the land of milk and honey.
Going to work in a new place,
Where they’re a new face,
Without trace,

Polly Stretton © 2012


7 thoughts on “Ten Pound Migration

  1. Wow I’m sort of torn. I liked the tightness of the first, which gives the inquisitive mind like mine a reason to dig deeper and consider each choice of image, but then I love the lyrical, narrative flow of this one. It’s hard to say.

    One of the main reasons that I’ve ventured off on this study of form is highlighted by what you said, “…form is fascinating, but here, my own voice wanted to break free…”

    My hope is that this study causes my poetic voice to evolve, grow, mature if you will. But I know (at least hope) that in many ways it will not be changed, but rather solidify and become naturally stronger.


  2. My goodness, it makes one want to study form and its impact in much greater depth and I know I’m many steps behind you on this K – I totally endorse what you say about the study giving a chance to cause one’s own poetic voice to evolve etc – for me, it’s regular writing that seems to help me towards finding my ‘own’ voice and will, hopefully, make it stronger.

    It will be interesting to see whether we get any more comments on this one.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts 🙂


  3. I first misread your title as “Ten-Pound Migraine,” which I have today. 😦

    I really like this line: “And warmth, their skin, bones, eyes become clear”

    “Where they’re a new face,
    Without trace,
    Australia.” … Sounds tempting. 🙂


    • So sorry to see you have a migraine today, I get them too, so genuinely sympathise …

      Good to see your fave lines – I guess that final bit does look pretty tempting 🙂

      Wishing you better – out damn migraine!


  4. I think I like this version best. It seems to flow more naturally without the constraints of the form and structure in the other one.


  5. I like this version best because it seems to have more detail, description and feeling than the other one. It tells the story more fully for me. And thanks for turning me onto the Ten Pound Poms…never heard of these before.


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