I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

11 June 2016

My Life in Words 1. Childhood

My life was a circle of enchantment, 
a vast back lawn
edged by flowers, ferns and berries
and a stand of skinny bamboo,
where I played alone
but not alone –
with friends no-one else ever saw.
It was books and stories; my Dad
reading me poems at bedtime
(Longfellow, Masefield, Rupert Brooke).
It was grownups who said I was clever.

Then it was school, and failure
at sport, art, numbers and song
(myopia, astigmatism, infected tonsils
diagnosed much later).
Only my words held good.
It was loud, popular queens of the playground
who didn't like me; the ritual bullying; 
the crack of the teacher's quick cane.
It was a few intense friendships,
serially exclusive enclaves of two.
It was going within to survive.

Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #307


  1. How shocking it must've been, to go from cleverness and attention to finding so many things that didn't work quite right. Thank goodness for words, and for the worlds that live within... for without them, too many of us would have never made it.

    1. As yes, an earlier version of that line read, 'Saved, as always, by my words.'

    2. So many of us have been "Saved... by [our] words." They are magical like that, aren't they? And offer new things every time we write them (and reread them). ♥

  2. School is the hell of childhood. Loved this, Rosemary........and resonate so much with going within to survive. I did the same, burrowing deep.

  3. Rosemary, I really like reading about your childhood. I remember oftentimes playing 'alone but not alone' as well. I had my dolls, my dollhouses, my paper dolls. I was a shy kid through high school. It was only when I got to college did I come into my own. I think, as a teacher, I always had empathy for those who struggled with the socialization of it all. And, oh yes, those bully queens of the playground. I always found that some girls could really be mean in a hurtful sort of way. It is good that you had books, stories, AND your dad.

  4. ah...surviving with words..words are omnipotent...

  5. Your words on survival echo loud... somewhere we find the inner strength to battle on. Even the ugly scars sometimes mutate into beautiful words on paper... beautifully and bravely written!

  6. "a vast back lawn" - that creates so many images for me.

  7. I think you learn a lot more once you have left school. It probably saddens a lot of your readers to hear of your schooldays. Thank heavens for your father to spark your interest and love of poetry and writing.

  8. Going within to survive certainly resonates..and doesn't leave when childhood ends..however we find our words it truly can keep us alive..

  9. School can be cruel so many of us, Rosemary I can relate to the images in this powerful poem.

    Lots of love,

  10. 'It was going within to survive'
    And some of us still find that the only way to survive
    Excellent poem and I am sure many poets and artists will relate.

  11. You've been so lucky Rosemary, to have been exposed to words and writings at a very young age. It is a savior in adult life certainly!


  12. I think I mostly walked alone at school as well... it was not easy when what counted was not really the words or the numbers, but bullying yourself to the top.... (but in many way we are lucky to never have climbed to the falshood of peaks)

  13. Ah! The school education doesn't go very well mostly because somehow, there is no focus on creativity and imagination.
    Your childhood before school sounds beautiful.
    An important write. :-)


  14. This scenario plays out too often in youth, but where would we be with out those experiences sometimes. Lovely capture of perseverance.

  15. Back for another read. I love your memoir poems, my friend. Love that your father read you poetry!!!! Starting your love affair with words. I remember falling in love with a word, in grade three, writing it down so lovingly, the true beginning of my writing journey. The word was "paw", foretelling my long love affair with dogs. Smiles.

  16. Once again Rosemary you write my life in these words....playing alone, illness, bullying and going within to survive....lovely!

  17. Words have saved so many of us. I was a loner, but my books kept me company--such a relateable piece for so many

  18. Poems about the life of the poet are always wonderful and inspiring to read. I see images of myself, but most importantly that pull and longing that led, inevitably, to the written word. Looking forward to future installments.

  19. This is fantastic. I especially like the opening and closing.

  20. So good that you were clever, even if it was hidden by illness and other conditions for a while. But you were clever enough to go within, you survived and so did your cleverness. It shows in your talent.

  21. This is such a compelling story. Childhood can be desperately difficult, at times. But, I do believe that those who have lived through such experiences glean a compassion towards others, that is often lost on those who seem to proceed through their youth with the world on a string. Too often, I have come to realize, they pay a heavy price for the "ease" of never having had their eyes opened to the tribulations of others.

  22. Sometimes it is so difficult to explain about that inward journey and the discovery of words that allow us to tell of it. You did it very well, and thank you for that,


  23. 'Playing alone, but not alone' always very important for self-development. Support family, your father reading you - wonderful, we always need these 'believing eyes'...

  24. 'It was going within to survive' resonates with me too.
    As I child I was so comfortable with adults but a shy introvert with regards to my school peers. School was a bad time for me.
    I was twenty-three before I had my turning point when I gained confidence to be me.
    Cheers for making me think.
    Anna :o]