The Sun Abandons London: a pantoum poem

Punam Sharma is the poet of the week for The W3 Weekly Prompt. Her prompt challenge is to write a pantoum poem. This will be my second attempt at the pantoum poetry form. My first attempt was called The Eye of the Kalamatrix written last year.

Punam’s Prompt Guidelines:

Write a Pantoum on the theme of abandonment.
What is a pantoum?

It’s complicated. The first and third lines of the first quatrain stanza are repeated in subsequent stanzas in different lines. I could tell you more, but I might lose the will to live. Please visit the W3 Weekly Prompt page to discover the basic format and strict rules.

I am writing my pantoum THE SUN ABANDONS LONDON, but get stuck in the last quatrain (the poem was taking me where it wanted to go—I had no control over it). To get help, I went on a Google browsing hunt to find out how to write a pantoum poem—and discover this info on Wiki, “… in the final stanza, lines one and three from the first stanza are repeated, or new lines can be written.” 

Of course, Wiki can be wrong, but the information makes me happy. I didn’t want to repeat lines 1. and 3. of the first stanza into my final stanza. They would not make sense to the way my rhyme was going. 
(I also found a poetry site that says a pantoum doesn’t rhyme. Oh! (Oh, dear.) 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my pantoum.

The Sun Abandons london

Where’s the London sun gone? Where’s it set?
Why did it abandon us? Where’d it go?
The rain is falling, the streets are wet.
It has rained all day, y’know.

Why did it abandon us? Where’d it go?
Where’s my umbrella? Drat! I left it on the bus.
It has rained all day, y’know.
Please, good fellow!—have you a brolly I can use?

Where’s my umbrella? Drat! I left it on the bus.
The weeping sky pours a deluge down upon my head
Please, good fellow!—have you a brolly I can use?
Sorry, I’ve only got my sodden hat, he said.

The weeping sky pours a deluge down upon my head
I’m getting soaked, I say. Drat! I left my brolly on a train.	
Sorry, I’ve only got my sodden hat, he said.
He turns away. And I am abandoned to the rain.

Lesley Scoble, March, 2023


Abandonment is a strong subject for a poem. I considered writing about the abandoning of a child (heavy stuff, I know).

The Foundlings

The Foundling Hospital (now a museum) was a charity where mothers left their unwanted, illegitimate babies. Along with a pathetic token, such as a button, coin, or a piece of cloth. This was a link of identity. In case they might change their mind or wish to claim and reunite with their abandoned child in the future. 

The Foundling Hospital Charity worked to provide the babies with a foster home until their fifth birthday. At five, the child returned to the institution’s care (even if the foster parents wanted to keep them). Does this seem heartless to you?

Anthony Gormley’s sculptures of foundling babies moved me to tears when I saw them on temporary exhibition in the Foundling Museum. They were on show, lying all alone. Placed in the hallways and in the rooms of this historic care home. A poignant homage to, and echo from, the abandoned children of the 18th century.

Anthony Gormley’s sculpture of a foundling—seen abandoned in the forecourt of the Royal Academy of Arts (2019).
Foundling by Anthony Gormley | Royal Academy of Arts, London
Another subject I considered for the pantoum was about an abandoned dog. 

My Greek Dog, Skylos

I was young and living and working in Athens. One day, on a walk through the city streets, I came across a three foot high dog. He was sitting alone on the pavement.

Passers-by seemed oblivious to his existence (except me!). 

At first, I thought he was real. He was very realistic, but made of soft grey and white furry, hairy cloth. I picked him up. He was heavier than he looked. He had adorable eyes. I examined him and saw that one of his ears was shedding stuffing—nothing that a few stitches wouldn’t fix. I fell in love with him. 

For weeks, he was my companion in my humble digs in the back streets of Athens. I named him Σκύλος (Skylos) which is Greek for dog.

Tea and Biscuits at the British Embassy

The time came when I must return to England. I was penniless (it’s a long story) so sought advice at the British Consulate about how to return home with little money. I enjoyed tea and biscuits at the Embassy while the British Ambassador discussed the routes I might take.

The information I received about the magic bus journey was off the record (the ambassador whispered, “You didn’t hear it from me”). It is thanks to this kind and honourable gentleman who slipped me this knowledge that I later got home.

Over tea and biscuits, we sorted the drachma into piles of the different amounts and currencies needed (‘twas before the Euro) for the various refreshment stops at each different country. To this day, it amazes me that my sum total of Italian Lira, was the precise amount needed to pay for my meal in Italy. Not one thousand lira less nor one thousand lira more! Astonishing budgeting, don’t you agree? The whole exercise of planning the cost of meals en route was down to the ambassador. I think of this wonderful gentleman to this day with gratitude for his help.

The route I chose (because I had no other choice) was to take the ‘Magic Bus’. The magic bus was my only way to get home with the meagre pittance I possessed.

The Magic Bus

I waited at the stop in Syntagma Square, where I was to board the so called Magic Bus. I gave them my case to store in the bowels of the bus, but held on to my precious dog as hand luggage. “You can’t take him on the bus!” I was told in no uncertain terms. “Then, I’ll put him in the hold with my suitcase, I said. “No. There is no room for him.” I was told he couldn’t travel. In the unkindest way, I was given a choice. “My suitcase or the stuffed animal.”

As the bus leaves, I look back through my window. My dog was where I placed him. His head lopped slightly to one side, and I saw his ear was bleeding stuffing (despite my sewing). The bus pulls away. My dog was watching from the kerb by the stop. He was alone. Abandoned once more on an Athenian pavement.

The bus turns the corner and I never see him again.

Sketch from my balcony in Athens
Sketch from my balcony in Athens | Drawing: Lesley Scoble

The Foundling Hospital, Bloomsbury, London, founded by Thomas Coram, a philanthropist, in 1741. The charity's aim was to help and protect children and babies from dying on London’s streets. 

I often took my two little boys to play at Coram’s Fields in Bloomsbury. It is a lovely park for children to play. My boys also loved the small farm of sheep, goats, etc. within the grounds. Adult admittance to these gardens is allowed only when accompanied by a child.

The Magic Bus was an ‘illegal bus’ that took passengers north, up the full length of Greece, across Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro), Italy, and France. Thence, across the Channel to Blighty (home). All in 24 hours of non-stop driving (I watched in horror as the drivers changed driving seats without stopping). There were brief stops for food and toilet breaks of no more than half and hour.


Image Credit 
The Sun Abandons London | Artwork and Animated Gif ©️Lesley Scoble 

My thanks to Punam Sharma for her inspirational pantoum prompt, and to David of The Skeptic’s Kaddish for the W3 Weekly Prompt.

32 responses to “The Sun Abandons London: a pantoum poem”

  1. I think the most important thing is for the poet to be happy with the poem, rather than follow a set form. I do like forms! However, I’ve messed some up to have a better poem, and I think that’s fine. Love yours and that image of the foundling is so sad…

    Liked by 1 person

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