Thursday, 10 July 2008

A poem that inspired...

Today's blog prompt in Shimelle's class was to choose a poem that had inspired us in some way, and explain how. Now, I don't actually read a lot of poems these days, but there are a few that stand out that I have read in the past and have stayed with me for a variety of reasons.

First of all, the poem Before You Were Mine by Carol Ann Duffy. I had to study her poems at school but I actually really enjoyed the collection, and this is the poem that I always remember.

Before You Were Mine

I'm ten years away from the corner you laugh onwith your pals,
Maggie McGeeney and Jean Duff.
The three of you bend from the waist, holding
each other, or your knees, and shriek at the pavement.
Your polka-dot dress blows round your legs. Marilyn.

I'm not here yet. The thought of me doesn't occur
in the ballrooms with the thousand eyes, the fizzy, movie tomorrows
the right walk home could bring. I knew you would dance
like that. Before you were mine, your Ma stands at the close
with a hiding for the late one. You reckon it's worth it.

The decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one, eh?
I remember my hands in those high-heeled red shoes, relics,
and now your ghost clatters towards me over George Square
Till I see you, clear as scent, under the tree,
with its lights, and whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?

Cha cha cha! You'd teach me the steps on the way home from Mass,
stamping stars from the wrong pavement. Even then
I wanted the bold girl winking in Portobello, somewhere
in Scotland, before I was born. That glamorous love lasts
where you sparkle and waltz and laugh before you were mine.

At the time I read this poem, I loved it for its nostalgia for a time that the writer hadn't even been part of. I can relate to this kind of nostalgia, and a longing to know the people you love now before they became mothers and grandmothers and so on. I think that this feeling really relates to my desire to scrapbook, and keep records, and study History I suppose.

Another poem that stands out in my memory is this one, by Eleanor Farjeon, called It Was Long Ago. This is another one that probably gives a good insight into why I scrapbook. Its extremely nostalgic and I always felt a little bit sad reading it, knowing that the old lady and the cat were long gone. And that the little girl had to grow up. I had never really thought about my favourite poems before, but its amazing what they say about you! I am clearly a very nostalgic person.

It Was Long Ago

I'll tell you, shall I, something I remember?
Something that still means a great deal to me.
It was long ago.

A dusty road in summer I remember,
A mountain, and an old house, and a tree
That stood, you know,

Behind the house. An old woman I remember
In a red shawl with a grey cat on her knee
Humming under a tree.

She seemed the oldest thing I can remember.
But then perhaps I was not more than three.
It was long ago.

I dragged on the dusty road, and I remember
How the old woman looked over the fence at me
And seemed to know

How it felt to be three, and called out, I remember
"Do you like bilberries and cream for tea?"
I went under the tree.

And while she hummed, and the cat purred, I remember
How she filled a saucer with berries and cream for me
So long ago.

Such berries and such cream as I remember
I never had seen before, and never see
Today, you know.

And that is almost all I can remember,
The house, the mountain, the gray cat on her knee,
Her red shawl, and the tree,

And the taste of the berries, the feel of the sun I remember,
And the smell of everything that used to be
So long ago,

Till the heat on the road outside again I remember
And how the long dusty road seemed to have for me
No end, you know.

That is the farthest thing I can remember.
It won't mean much to you. It does to me.
Then I grew up, you see.

In scrap related news, and to stop me feeling a bit melancholy after these poems, here is a layout that I created ages ago. It was supposed to be for the Papermaze blog but after problems with the supplier it never got shared there. So here it is now.

I also think I deserve a medal, after I spent around three hours yesterday sorting all my patterned paper and cardstock into colours in my plastic trays. It now looks a lot neater and it was surprisingly easy to pick out colours for working on today's layout prompt, so I'm glad I did it. Hopefully it will make the whole process of coordination hassle-free. But we shall see...


  1. Both great poems - thanks for sharingt hem. I especially love the first one

    (and needless to say I LOVE the pussy cat page x )

  2. I came across Before You Were Mine recently as part of Shimelle's journaling class and it inspired me to do a LO of my mum using a photo from before I was born.

    Well done on your cardstock/paper sorting

  3. Those are very nostalgic but lovely. Love the layout - reminds me of my cat who also loves the sun!

  4. I really like your Sun Beam page. I like the buttons and the lettering of your title. Looking forward to seeing your pages for this project!

  5. Great poems, really love the second one

  6. I really enjoyed your poems, especially "It Was Long Ago", and your layout is beautiful, what a cute cat! :-)