The Ballad Of Winchester Jail

I would not stand nor raise my hand,

But sat in sullen gloom,

As men in dress and wigs impressed

my vices on the room,

And as my fate was meted out,

Went meekly to my doom.


A sentence of imprisonment,

Was deemed a fair riposte,

For months of social deviance,

Four months of life it cost.

To such a place no soul should face,

Or threshold ever cross.


In menace and with gravity,

The transportation came,

To consume me in its confines

As the jailer called my name,

And once aboard my soul was lost,

I'd never be the same !


The shadows of the prison walls,

Came lurching into view,

And confessed to keeping secrets in,

As high walls often do.

Not only do they keep in fear,

The world they keep out too.


With scandalous abandonment,

One man bemoaned his fate,

Whilst the warders kicked their polished heels,

Against the heavy gate,

And ushered in us startled lambs,

With smiles swathed in hate.


And once inside the walls, we trod

a path well trod before,

On landings steeped in misery,

Where men were men no more,

But paid the debt society,

Decreed was owed in law.


And on the Sabbath sat as one,

The Sinner and the Screw,

That each may sin no more we prayed,

Upon the aged pew.

That each might clear his debt with He,

To whom each debt is due.


We slept on beds of solitude,

In shallow fitful rest,

Enveloped by the shadowed bars,

Each cell a morbid nest.

Yet every eye must seek to sleep,

And every soul must rest.


And once in sleep to dream of peace,

Where peace to dream is rare,

Where in that maudlin maze of men,

Foul dirges filled the air,

And how it pains the ears to hear,

A brother in despair.


To listen as a bitter breath,

Is drawn from captive lung,

To every awful sound thats sent,

From sharp and savage tongue,

Thats been composed by broken hearts,

And through a tear been sung.


We should not laud the law-breaker,

Nor celebrate his crime,

But how should men be bettered when,

Reform is judged on time,

And calls for penal overhaul,

Requested in a rhyme. 

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9inety's picture

it must be written

that somewhere there are images of hell and of humans who escape condemnation. But not in this poem, in this poem it is where the poet inspires the desire for escape, an escape that becomes futile and it is evident from the very first lines. The words conjure up images between despair and hope the universal impact that all people feel when confined.Using the regulated rhymes scheme is most appropriate for the material at hand just the way the words meanander from the speakers lips manifests the feeling of a subjucated state of being. I think that from time to time we are all of us prisoners, imprisoned by our own shortcomings....

I am very impressed with this great poem.


keep writing

you are a talent to be watched




"One of the best results of life, is the torment of love"

Dylan Eliot