Short Poem Saturday – The Golf Links – Cleghorn

TheGolfLinksWhen I tour the Illustrated Poetry archives, I usually find myself in “revision and update” mode; like with any draft, time gives me fresh eyes to see my old posts. But occasionally I come across a published post and think, “no revision necessary, I would do it exactly that way again.” That is a pretty good feeling (rare as it is!), and so I’d like to re-post one that earned such an accolade.

As I mentioned a year ago, this trim quatrain has become the lasting legacy of poet, activist, and educator Sarah N. Cleghorn (1876 – 1959).  She devoted her life to working for numerous causes and published a great deal, but the continued fame of The Golf Links has led her to be most closely associated with the movement to end child labor in the United States. Published over one hundred years ago, this poem feels firmly rooted in the past; however, in many parts of the world child labor is a current and ongoing problem. Perhaps this mighty little poem still has work to do…Photograph and composition by me.


    1. Thank you kindly! It is a repost from last year – but this one goes in the “personal favorites” folder – so I am glad it was part of your introduction to Illustrated Poetry!


    1. Thank you kindly! I consider almost all of my posts “works in progress” and eligible for revision – but this one was a rare example of getting it right on the first try. One of my favorite things about this illustration is that the setting for this photograph is truly “ordinary” – I took it at night with my phone out of my apartment window – and yet it comes across as from another era!

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    1. Thank you, Jilanne – it is a juxtaposition that just sticks with you, doesn’t it? This poem always reminds me of the literal power of poetry – the ability to pack such a punch in so few words.

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    1. Agreed. I think that the classical short format – the quatrain – was a perfect choice to convey that sentiment. The comparison is made and laid bare for our consideration, no other commentary needed. It lingers with us.

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    1. Thank you, Tom! I distinctly remembered the first time I read “The Chimney Sweeper” (in high school, I think) – it was the first time I really “got it” about child labor, about what that meant, how young the children were, how “expendably” they were treated…


    1. It is my pleasure! Cleghorn worked tirelessly for so many causes – civil rights, women’s suffrage, education reform, in addition to ending child labor. I think she would be both amazed at how far we have come and saddened by how far we have yet to go…

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    1. Thank you! So true – then, as now, we can see the evidence all around us of what and who our society values above all else…
      I am definitely interested to read more of Cleghorn’s work, but sadly this poem is essentially all of what can be found online. Time to return to the trusty library!

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