In the mid-year English exam in fourth form I was suddenly inspired to respond to one of the questions  in the form of a poem. The idealistic (not to mention, religious) little girl that I was felt very strongly about it, and I also had the ambitious aim to make it sound like a folksong. Naturally, I felt very pleased with myself that I had managed to get my ideas across in a form that I thought was successful. So imagine my disappointment – and dented vanity – when the teacher (I think it was the same nun who questioned the originality of my bush poems) only gave me 12 out of 15 possible points for that question. Injustice! That younger, more blinkered me thought: How unfair! After all, it is so much harder to write a poem, especially one with a rigid metre, than to simply put your ideas in prose! So I got brave and asked the formidable nun what was wrong with it. Now, as a teacher myself, I understand her answer, but back then I felt hard done by. She pointed out that  the task had been a different one, and though the poem was good under the circumstances, I hadn’t done the task that had been asked of me. In fact, now I see that she had been quite generous by only deducting 3 points from the total. With the wisdom of long hindsight, I can see what she meant.  But it’s kind of quaint to look back and recall how naive and fervent I was.


When will we
All stop and see
The uselessness of war?

What can I say
To them that play
With lives and bleed the poor?

Why don’t they know
That as they go
There’s pain and misery?

Why don’t they cease
And give us peace,
Why can’t they look and see?

They know we should
Have brotherhood
But tell me, are they blind?

For hate and war
Are as before
And Peace – I cannot find.


© Cate Kimberley and Word and Affect, 2012


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