Poetry Challenge ‘What the Dickens?’


Bookstains was set up to put book reviews and poetry on.  The poetry challenges have proved quite popular.  They are  open indefinitely for anyone to join in.  So far the challenges have been about famous paintings.  But I thought that a challenge which was about the written word might also be interesting:-D 

The reason I have chosen Charles Dickens, is that most people have either read his books or have seen  films based upon his books. 

The challenge is to write a poem or Haiku about any Dickens character in any situation…or even a poem about Charles Dickens himself!

Please note;-

The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains (as well as having creative fun) so therefore it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge.

 In return the poem is copied to the challenges particular page and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website.

 If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it.  This is a genuine challenge – so please play fair:-) 

 I shall be giving  this challenge some thought –  I’ve already got a few ideas, – but so many books and so many characters…..which to go for? 🙂

Original Charles Dickens image from here

Our first contribution is from 47whitebuffalo who has a blog full of poetry, art and social commentry please check it out!  With this short poem, she assures me is just revving up – so expect more from her:-)

o damn,
color me ‘pink’
because at the moment
suggestive wink winks are all I can think
–I will attempt to get past these indiscreet suggestions…..o my….

The second contribution is a Haiku by Abigal Parker who writes a Haiku a day on her wonderful blog here

Dear Miss Havisham:
The wedding and you – both off.
Sincerely, Charles.


Well, heres my contribution – and an explanation of how it came about…

I am trying to get an expression of light and dark – life and death into this poem.  Miss Havirsham (Great Expectations) pays the young Pip money to see him play with her ward, the beautiful Estella. Well aware that the young boy is in awe of the girl, she watchs Estella, gaining satisfaction from the cruel way she has taught her to break hearts.  Miss Havisham, as she tells everyone, has no heart herself…..  Jilted at the altar when a young woman the old spinster sits in her dirty, dusty mouldering wedding dress.  No light is allowed to enter the rooms.  The wedding cake lies crumbling on the table – a home for mice.  Time has stood still.  This poem is written from an observant mouse’s point of view:-D


I Dwell in Miss Havisham’s House

No light shall enter here

Nor candlelight find the dark recesses

I watch, as she obsesses upon her past.

No future, and no hopes,

Just deaths decay awaits

Her nearing fate among the festering icing.

The clocks like sentinals, stand

With stiffened hands that staunch the years

Of dried up tears and pain

Loves lost refrain

Lies broken – creaking,

Whilst I remain in shadows, watchful, sneaking.

Coins for childrens laughter

Chink in vain against her frozen heart

That beats apart from this life and the next.

But cruelty has its grip

On youthful yearnings,

Snuffing out the candles of hopes celebrations.

Her icy heart shall spend it last

As fiery blast consumes her bygone lace

And shadows chase across that mouldering room

And join deaths gloomy choir

As flaming tongues conspire

With  ancient lace to form the tinder

To  her pyre

©Lynda M Roberts 2010

image from here with thanks!

Our 4th poem is from Adam Dustus whose great blog is full of poetry, graphic and poetry challenges!  If you are a poet this blog is a must!

What the Dickens?

You’ve made me dream of London
Industrial age, revolution
Insider’s eye to factory life
Catherine and 10 children

Iconic characters, Twist and Scrooge
Pickwick, Drood, a tale of two
Bleak house, Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend
Great Expectations the masters reread

Mary died held in your arms
Blaming self for sisters’ charms
Breaking hearts, too much your own
No price is worth a bitter throne

To students of novels you wrote our book
Your body of work, which screen and stage took
Each night before Christmas your genius I see
Tiny Tim’s blessing broadcast on TV

©Adam Dustus 2010 

Another great poem  has arrived!   This time its from poet and writer Moondustwriter whose lovely blog can be found here
Of hardship, suffering

How do you know

the plight to those

so very low?


Your words


man and his fate

you aptly plot

the gangliest trait


“These are but shadows

of  things that have been”

mastery in words

though of the dead


Fraught in his day

had such pity

shows the  delights

of many a city

©Moondustwriter 2010

Our 6th poem is from Richard North aka Kserverney aka the artswebshow.  Richard has started an new culture spot as well as his other blog – please look!


Charlie was a writer


Charlie was a writer, of great serials and prose.

Going back to a time in history, few would have chose.

A class ridden society of common folk and lords.

Lives of adversity, back then careers were more like chores.


Smoke billowed from chimney stacks as the fires burned within.

Workers shovelling the coal, bare back with burning skin.

As small boys hurried around doing jobs meant for grown men.

The owner sat in his armchair, benefiting from them.


A far cry from the romantic picture we see in that era’s novels.

Only the lucky, privileged few could hold pen instead of shovel.

Making history as they scratch pen to paper.

Writers in those times, no one could be safer.

©Richard North 2010

The 7th poem is by writer and poetess Jenneandrews who has a great and very interesting  blog here – please check it out:-)


“(S)he will make a lovely corpse.”

Charles Dickens

Bearing a heavy-hearted grudge
Against the entire season
I apply my will
To this dust,
These autumnal remnants
Filling the corners–
Tess the Golden’s dandelion fuzz
from her perennial shedding
Leaf-chaff, thin needles
From the alpine fir

Even a few fugitive
Juniper berries

A wren could build a nest
with this chaff
Or some Dickensian mop-hatted
Red-cheeked street-walker
Comb through it for the pennies
Trapped there.
If ten cents even got a glance
From the Salvation Army worker

On Thanksgiving Eve
dragging my bad leg
I vacuum cursing:
I would walk the streets singing
If I could which takes me
to the plight
Of the Twist in this life
(“A cripple for life!” he cried
From a masterpiece)

I curse my lot
And falter, sitting down
Sipping a cup of shame
Laced with marked down hazelnut

I forgot
that I have a house
To fill with leaves and light
And nests of dust.


copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2010


Our 8th poem comes from Ruth of Turtle Memoirs,whose memoir based pieces (blogs, poetry, literary nonfiction) simply must be read here


colour me no black-and-white of Scrooge’s
maker – a more colourful man not found
this side of heathendom

if giving’s not from the heart, I’d rather
my Xmas haul be empty

at least Scrooge had the grace
to withhold his empty heart-purse

but when he gave, reformed man he,
it was with utmost joy and thankfulness

Our 9th contribution comes from Jessica’s Japes whose blog will make you smile 🙂  She adds this kind note (thanks Jessica!)

(Having just discovered ‘Bookstains’, a great WordPress site, I thought I would send this to their Charles Dickens Challenge. It’s quickly written and very simple! Follow this link to Bookstains –  

(NB if you are not from the UK…Coronation Street is a long running soap opera set in the north of England, Eastenders is another soap set in London, and The Sun is a tabloid newspaper more interested in celebrity gossip and topless women than real news!)

Charlie D.

I wonder,  if Charlie D. lived here and now,
where would he and his writings be?

A regular Eastenders scriptwriter,
no doubt about it;
murder, mayhem, misunderstandings, misogyny, melancholy, misery.

The devil of all bloggers,
myriad ‘followers’
untold ‘likes’
rivers of ‘comments’
‘And remember, please, link back to Charlie D., hugs!’

A Facebook devotee
checking crops, joining groups, sending roses,
adding aps,
and look, an update!
chapter ten of ‘A Christmas Rap’!

A guest actor on the Street,
a racing certainty;
loquaciously beguiling beer-swilling strident northern characters,

A Twitter fanatic,
every hour, on the hour,
a name, a plotline, a quote, a plug.

A TV advertiser’s delight;
‘Buy one, get one turkey free,
Your chance to play a Scrooge to a Cratchit!’
(Smile, Charlie, smile! And cut…)

A front page tabloid delight,
‘Partying with Lady Gaga!’
See it all inside – only in The Sun!

Oh, Charlie D.
if you were here now
what great expectations we would have of you!

© Jessica D’Angelo 2010


A lovely festive and delightful contribution from Bendedspoon whose blog is wonderously uplifting and a must to visit!

“I don’t know what to write!”

Dickens you know I am a chicken

but for Lynda I will be a wolverine!


Oliver Twist I am glad that you’re not twisted

despite that you were amidst a wicked environment.

What is your secret for remaining pure-hearted?

Tell us all Oliver that we may learn.


Ebenezer Scrooge why so sour, greedy and stingy

when your stay on earth is only temporary?

Thanks to Jacob Marley and the 3 Ghosts of Christmases

you were transformed to a generous and compassionate fella!


Isn’t it great to wake up with joy and love in the heart?

Wait do I hear A Christmas Carol?

What are we waiting for — let’s sing now!

Merry Christmas!


©Bendedspoon 2010


36 thoughts on “Poetry Challenge ‘What the Dickens?’

    1. Hhehe short and to the point and most unusual for Dickens (he must have really been off with her – poor Miss haversham!:-)
      coincidently thats who I’m writing about too!
      Thanks Abigail – appreciated contribution!

  1. Lynda, I love yours! Beautifully describes the decay of the feast as a metaphor for that of Miss Havisham herself, from a very unusual point of view! Using the mouse as the speaker also makes the comparison of Estella and Pip to a cat-and-mouse game more vivid. Very cool! 🙂

    1. Thanks Abigail:-) I never even thought about the cat and mouse association! That’s a great observation:-) As you can see I have changed the spelling of Haversham to Havisham lol. Its just one of those names you THINK you know how to spell…. Dickensian names? I’ll look em up next time:-D
      I also like your comparison to Havisham and a spoiled wedding cake/feast! Theres a lot more to Dickens than meets the eye eh:-D
      Dead passion coming alive in the form of real flames and consuming the forgotten and dusty past. It makes me think that Mr D may have used word association as inspiration for his plots:-)

    1. Theres no time limit with the challenges really.
      This is a Dickens cracker of a poem Adam – jammed packed full of Dickensian characters! You’ve even set him in his own Victorian context;-
      Industrial age, revolution
      Insider’s eye to factory life…
      Well done! Thanks for joining in Adam your poems are always interesting and very much appreciated:-)

    1. I really like the way you have described the way Dickens writes – and the reference to Great Expectations Moondustwriter:-) I love this line;-

      “You aptly plot
      the gangliest trait…”

      This is a lovely poem – with an individualistic twist! thanks so much!

  2. Thanks to Richard North for his contribution – Charlie was a writer:-) The poem explore a time when youth was a commodity to be exploited and the social divide was a deep chasm. Very good – thanks Richard!

  3. Thanks Jenne! A very unique poem – very sensual and full of impressions! I love this;-

    “Or some Dickensian mop-hatted
    Red-cheeked street-walker
    Comb through it for the pennies
    Trapped there…”

    A great contribution – and very appreciated – thanks so much for taking part in this challenge:-)

  4. hi lynda– so very wonderful to meet you and have the chance to get know other writers– thanks for reposting me– your poem is wonderful and i love the others as well–xxxj

    1. Thanks Ruth! I really like this poem:-) it has a great tone and a very timely Christmas message;-

      “but when he gave, reformed man he,
      it was with utmost joy and thankfulness…”

      We can learn a lot from A Christmas Carol – all the year around:-)

    1. Thanks Jessica! I LOVE it! Dickens was such a media person, I’m sure this networking age of technology would be right up his street heheh:-D Love the reference to Corrers (as we call Coronation Street)

      “loquaciously beguiling beer-swilling strident northern characters….”
      This is a great contribution:-) lots of thanks!

  5. Great stuff Bendedspoon! You twisted Oliver and ‘chickened’ Dickens with this great rhyme:-) There are so many lovely sentiments in this poem – the last verse is beautiful and says it all:-

    “Isn’t it great to wake up with joy and love in the heart?

    Wait do I hear A Christmas Carol?

    What are we waiting for — let’s sing now!

    Merry Christmas!”

    Thanks for joining in – appreciated as always:-)

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