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Poetry

Soured Memories of Sweet Sixteen

This post is in response to a writing challenge on The Daily Post. You can see this here http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/only-sixteen. It also marks the first anniversary of Adwick School’s demolition. The post refers exclusively to Adwick School, and (save for the poetic reference to others taking the throne) not to the two institutions that subsequently succeeded it.

That last seat of childhood authority is no more. One year on, I still struggle believing it! That our prestigious institution could so unceremoniously fall to the dust beggars belief.

Sweet Sixteen - in school uniform

Sweet Sixteen – in school uniform

For in truth our Emerald Queen was gone long before her ruined courts were razed. And I find that so hard to comprehend. What in my day was revered if though in dread, these days is scarcely remembered save in contempt. Therefore though those buildings be but newly gone, our world therein is much that longer lost.

While these ruins of our youth remained, they were defamed by those that came after us. A generation that had not seen the glories of our day, remembered them for other things. I too saw her slow decline, I watched her uniform in decay, and I heard of the infamy of her latter day. I still sighed when others took her throne. It was over then, not years later when the buildings went.

Ruins of Adwick School

My childhood world in ruins. Photo: Gerald Sables.

Those that scorn the memory of the Emerald Queen could not have known how once it was, and verily I remember her latter crew. They wore the uniform but as they did please; we were never once given the choice! Yet for all that we rebelled, secretly we admired the place – that final seat of absolute authority over the devices and desires of our own hearts! This is the greatest difference between us and them, and now and then!

That it should have ended the way it did feels so unreal. In my day the uniform was not for negotiation, and whatever I said I loved its distinctive colours of green, and white, and black. I said otherwise when I was a pubescent sixteen year old. Like my protestations against wearing a uniform, I celebrated my (so-called) independence the day I finally left – in both cases an attempt to assert myself in the adult world I entered, yet neither were seriously really meant.

Then came those after us, and they did mean those things they said. Among them those that said they would willingly press the button, that day our school came down. Then my foolish words came back to haunt me. The Emerald Queen was dead.

The Emerald Queen is my poetic name for our demolished school

The Emerald Queen

Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!

Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love, and fear, and awesome dread?

Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!

 

Queen Spring

An allegoric poem from 1984, with some revisions. It is set to music. I shall publish the melody shortly after making some revisions to that.
demolished

Our demolished school

King Summer now doth take Spring’s Throne
For years we longed to see this day!
And yet, as our Queen now retireth alone,
I beg that she do not go away!

Ye thought my rule so hard and cruel,
Yet now thou pleadest me to stay,
Despising my Laws whilst under my rule….
What wonder is this, good friend, I pray?

And now I go, nor can I stop!
King Summer reign must many years:
Yet hearken thee this – when the leaves start to drop,
Your Queen shall return to wipe thy tears!

What toil hath been to us since then,
When Spring so took retirement,
God speed her return to our land once again*,
In Wonders across His firmament.

*pronounced “a – genn”. This was written in Doncaster, and is one of the few demonstrable cases were that particular dialect can be seen in what I write.

The Enemy (1986)

Poetical Writing from My Unemployment

In Norway we have a saying. “Ingenting er så galt at det ikke er godt for noe“. It means “Nothing is so bad that there is nothing good about it”.  I thought about that last night when I found something I thought had been lost forever.

Home

My late parents from about the time I wrote “The Enemy”.

Back in 1986 I was still living at home with my parents. It was a difficult time. I was no longer in full time education, and I was unemployed. At the age of 21, this was no good situation. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now see how remaining at home so late was extremely destructive to our relationships, but because of my unemployment I simply did not have the means to do anything about this. This resulted in a dysfunctional situation that arguably re-enforced itself in a vicious circle, both with respects to life at home and my prospects for getting out of the unemployment queue.

Because of these circumstances, I went through a crisis mentally. The carefree world I had known in childhood, with its security and comfort was now gone, and I met each day with foreboding and uncertainty. Now thank God – after an influential person who has sadly left this world gave me a reference – I was ultimately successful in getting back into education, and I did leave that queue. Nevertheless it was from this time that I first started putting my thoughts to paper.

“The Enemy” is something I thought had been lost in 2010. I had a flood in the cellar of where I then was living here in Norway, and the original paper containing this got destroyed. Although I had made a copy on my harddisk, I have never been able to find it – until now.

A few weeks ago, I had a devastating harddisk crash, and my friend Jon Blamire in Finnsnes was very kind in telling me exactly how I might rescue my data. After having placed my damaged disk in an enclosure, and being successful in rescuing it, I have been applying the same technique on another yet older disk I have. And sure enough, what do I  find today, if not that poetical writing from 1986 that I thought I had lost!

If there is anything that really is interesting, taken as it is from the year 1986 (when I spoke only English), it shows how sensitive I was even then to the distinction between “you” (singular) and “you” (plural). That is something that constantly bothered me, and in many respects still does when I am using English, because I actually think it and am frustrated in trying to communicate it. It is interesting because it shows how different I really must have been given that this is not a feature of the culture I was born in.

The Enemy

 
Be as nasty as you may; you all shall fail. You shall not trouble nor defeat me. I have overcome the lot of you. Your strength is in deception, craftily planned; my strength is in the LORD, whose seal is truth.
 
You are nothing. You are false and empty of all reason. Which of you has any truth? Yet you would dare still to trouble me – and many others too. You are children of deception, the breath of falsehood!
 
Many lives you have laid waste. The ones you hurt are out of sight, rotting in a mental knacker’s yard. They cry aloud, but are not heard. Your crimes go unreported to the world. And so it goes for forever on: each day another joins their ranks.
 
You are the enemy. Like raiders of long ago, you come hoard upon hoard against us, invading the peace and the tranquillity of our minds. How many of you there are! But cowards – all of you! Not to the strong, but to the weak your deadly army goes. Destruction of the self follows you; you leave nothing for our salvaging. Yes you – you are the enemy!
 
These are the ones who have brought us to despair. We were fooled by their crafty game. Haunting us has been their play. We are humans; phantoms they.
 
These ghosts are nothing but good trickery. They should not cause us further fear. Can you not [1]see their emptiness yourself? Shine a light; they disappear! They are shadows in your mind! Ignore them; they can do no harm.
 
You shall live again, and you shall give them nothing for their meal. You shall live in liberty, fearing but Almighty God. Mark my words and have no fear! Unpleasant things will still cross your path. Fear the LORD and worry not! He brings goodness out of ill. Wait for Him and for His will. That is the only thing of any great importance. He is your saviour and your Lord!
 
And if there yet remain some bad thing within your life – then, friend, take this advice. You lead a new life, free of fear and following God; so you be a good Christian, and remember it is more blessed to give than to receive – give it to the enemy.  

[1] The original was “Can you yourself see their emptiness”

The above text, with few alterations, was written by me in 1986. The “enemy” was all the troubled thoughts I had at that time, which I looking back upon see as particularly critical.

During that time my thoughts became, as I recall myself thinking of them, “noisy”. However – and thanks be to God – I did not ever think of them as anything other than troublesome thoughts. That is to say, that I remained at all times conscious of what was real and what was not. This critical period lasted until the very early nineties, when I gradually became less troubled by things. I cannot remember any exact date when I realised I no longer had a problem, but I guess it must again have been at some point in the early nineties shortly after I had arrived in Norway.

Not being a psychologist, and never having been to one, I can only suggest the causes of this internal personal crisis. I believe that it was caused in part by long term unemployment, coupled with my related inability to move out of the nest, and away from my parents. Certain people spoke of me as a parasite for that reason. I would “muse” on the meaning of life, that seemed to have disappeared with the end of my school days. It is now my belief that I thought about things a little too much.

In terms of my literary output, this period was quite constructive. I wrote poems and other short pieces of writing. It is not untrue to say that I developed my own special form of English. Of particular interest as mentioned above was my concern to distinguish between “you” in the singular and “you” as the pure plural.

Now that all this lies in the past, I find it much easier to speak about. I put it out on my Site, hoping that it will serve as encouragement for others.

Now Is Time

Vestbygd

Philosophical Reflections

 Truth is not afraid of shedding tears,
And those who will not lament past regrets,
Must face by far their greatest fears;
Laden so by many debts,
from youth misspent, and sins before,
These cry too late, and God implore,
Who now would not, and Him ignore,
So do not live but for this now:
As much your nature will allow,
Repent that wrong done in the past,
knowing they most surely lie,
deceive themselves who will not cry,
And lose in lies their lives at last.

 

Alas O Emerald Queen!

This poem was written as the last bricks of my school were being levelled to the ground. Adwick School is here poetically referred to as “The Emerald Queen”.

Emerald Queen

Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!
Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love and fear and awesome dread?
Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!

 

Prisoner On Death Row

Adwick

Download all the old Adwick icons as an icon library by clicking here.

Thou shalt become our enduring myth. Reason there is we still remember thee – if only in contempt!

Soon shalt thou be gone. Some quip*,

they would like to press the button

when they finally despatch thee to eternity.

Methinks getting rid of thee will be much harder. Thou wilt haunt our collective memory,

long after thou hast gone.

Thou shalt be our Titanic; thy years our own Atlantis,

A story we are never finished with,

A legend living on within,

Powered by what we will not own:

our conscience and our loss.

Thou shalt be our lasting myth. Live thou long when thou art gone!

An Ode – upon the plans to demolish my old school

Though I walked upon your grounds
strolled again The Covered Way,
Still should I be “Out of Bounds”,
far from you that made our day:
You are not these buildings where
we were once a part of you
(rather what we now see there,
is the shell of what we knew);
Though a thousand years these stood,
And though so long all we live could,
You are gone! All else is VAIN:
in the present we remain;
Therefore so let us now live!
And living learn our past forgive,
Freed from all that ties us down –
be our lives your great renown!
Not as buildings doomed to go,
nor as memories you be lost,
You are gone! It is not so
their loss you can ever cost!

Note: “Memories” is read with two syllables, “mem’ries”.

This particular post is in response to the decision to demolish the old main school building that used to be the Percy Jackson Grammar School, and in my day Adwick School. I was a pupil there from 1979 to 1981. I shall be blogging more on this within the week. Please watch this space.

Reference: http://www.percyjacksons.co.uk/History/history.html