Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Then And Now

Having reverted to childhood as a subject this week, I've decided to stick with the theme a little longer. In the book I keep referring to, 'The Littlest One', you get a picture of a gentler, less complicated way of life by the time you've read it to the end. It was obviously written from a fairly upper class viewpoint. The little boy featured on all the pages, lived in a household with maids, servants, a Nanny. There's a dog called Toby and a nameless, black cat. His home sports a grand piano, which his Mother played sad music on 'when Daddy was ill', as one poem tells us.

As well as the family scenario, which includes references to Uncles, Aunts, Grandparents, Cousins - though, interestingly, no siblings - other people appear who add to the sense of time and place: a jolly postman: a boat builder: a baker with a shop window where gingerbread men have' bright, curranty eyes': travelling gypsies, complete with dire warnings to children ( they might be spirited away!).

There's a forge where ringing blows echo, as the boy watches sparks fly in the dusk, and in a nearby house, an old man called Peter Bollins lights the way upstairs with a candle, which casts scary, goblin shadows on the windows.

The book has no prose, simply poems that have all this information woven invisibly within their rhymes. I think it such a shame it's gone out of print.

Anyhow, having got children and childhood on the brain, I wanted to write something to show how far removed many of their lives are today, from the almost idyllic picture of the early 1900's that my favourite book portrayed.

Different Lives

Mum and I live
in a flat down town
in a building with a lift
that goes up and down.
We don’t have a garden,
but the park is close by.
We go there walking,
my Mum and I.

Dad lives on the river
in a barge tied with ropes
to a little wooden jetty
where the riverbank slopes.
It has coloured flowers
painted round its rim,
and I sleep in a bunk
when I go to stay with him.

My Grandparent's villa
is very far away,
beside a sandy seashore
in Spain, I heard Mum say.
We're saving up our money
for tickets on a plane,
to have a special visit
with Gran and Gramps again.


  1. I've written a lot of poems about nowadays families in my Finnish poem blog for children and childish people -they are happy poems, although the world is changing.

    To be loved is what everybody and especially children need -the surroundings change, love stays.

    And I found a lot of love and caring in your poem.

  2. Aye, our second childhoods can be so lovely. :) Makes you wish we were living in those less complicated times.

  3. So lovely Jinksy, thanks for bringing these verses to us. I for one really love the story entwined in there.

    Love Granny

  4. You have a great conversational tone in this poem. I like the "lift that goes up and down" - telling us that it goes up and down seems to add so much more depth to the image. I can see someone in the lift waiting and pondering these "different lives."

  5. Hmm, so much has changed. I so love to read your posts.

    A big smile and warm hug,

  6. I like your poem even better than his. It captures quite a lot really.

  7. really quite a different way indeed.

  8. Wonderful poem. Your story about the other book was so whimsical and indeed--times have changed! You are so good at writing. I always say that writing reminds me of a song or music and I can see the notes when I read yours.

  9. It sounds as though the parents were separated. I wonder.

  10. Seems to be a theme running through many blogs today (including my own) about family, especially grandparents. Odd how these things seem so synchronized sometimes.

  11. Awwww. It made me a little sad. Lovely.

  12. Thank you for that brilliant little poem about Princess Patricia!!!

  13. I enjoy your poems, as well as your commentary. Thank you for stopping by my blog - your comment about Eeyore's rump made me laugh. It does get around, doesn't it?

  14. Very evocative - And it's funny how stories stick with us so from childhood. I remember vividly one about rag dolls living in a Victorian attic - but I cannot for the life of me recall the title - It was a little scary - as so many of those old ones were, for as with your favourite book, they are written from a perspective we knew naught about... x

  15. I prefer your poem to the old ones. You capture so much of today's world in just a few words.

  16. Yes, I wondered about the parent's separation but then thought, it might just be a work situation. The tone was very interesting, very matter of fact but yet from a young point of view. I enjoyed it Jinksy. Thanks.

  17. I was intrigued with comments debating separation/work being the story behind this poem; it was pure invention. But I did want to show that, despite 'different lives'of so many of today's families, it doesn't necessarily mean they can't work well in their own way. Who ever thought imnagination could spark so much wondering?!

  18. The imagination is a magical wand we all possess - it's just that some are able to wave it more productively than others. And, my goodness, you wave yours exceptionally well, jinksy!


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