Having acquired new book cases, I have been sorting out some of the many piles of paper that I have in my studio; while doing so, I came across two versions of a poem laboriously written out for a competition back when I was a child.
The earlier version is just six lines long and starts:
Clearly, though, I wasn’t satisfied.
More material has been added to the later version – which runs to eleven lines and seems to have been considered as the ‘finished’ poem – and the linebreaks have been re-jigged. It begins:
It’s good to know that even that long ago I was re-drafting my work with a hope for publication or recognition. Sad, though, that after all this time I am still not much more conf¡dent about linebreaks.
The last line is similar in both versions of The Spider:
“But its web is beautiful.”
“But its web looks beautiful.”
I’m not sure changing “is” to “looks” is an improvement, but then, I am no longer ten years old.
Thinking about the style of the poem – observation of nature and the objectivity that says that however nasty it seems, there’s something positive to be found in life – I do wonder how far my writing has actually developed in nearly half a century.
I’ll even admit that, despite being totally familiar with the rules, I still need to think twice about whether the word “its” needs an apostrophe.