Longfellow cut short

In his ears
he longed
to hear Longfellow;
taught Tennyson,
Keats and Chaucer;

What chance he
in fuckin’ Barnsley
where language is
coal mine coarser.

© Copyright D. Archer October 2011

Apologies for the language but this was written in anger after I watched a young father tell his son who innocently picked up a second hand book “I’m not buying no fuckin books”. It is the language of my home-town I am a little ashamed of the choice language.

My heart sank, the father stood with a can of lager and a half smoked cigarette refusing to expand his sons’ horizon for the want of 50 pence.

It is also sad that I was unable to buy the book on behalf of the child for fear of getting my face kicked in. Such is the mentality of my home town. 

I don’t usually like colloquialism in poems but it does reflect the hard, ex-coal mining town that Barnsley still is; regardless of shiny bus stations and chocca-mocha latte coffees.

7 thoughts on “Longfellow cut short

    • Jackpot ! Finally a connection, my dad the same, he never forced any learning on me but made sure that all the right books were left around the house just so I could find them. He was a coal miner, hard as nails with a guilty pleasure for Keats! This situation I wrote about made my heart sink, if the universe is kind enough and I see the small boy again on the second hand market I will buy him the book. Dave

  1. I really liked this poem. I like a lot of your poetry. I don’t see the need for you to explain away or apologise for the use of profanity in the given context. If the reader is so closeted that they don’t get it then so be it. It is what it is. The sentiment in the poem, while driven by anger, is very real and I believe, is within the personal experience of many people in all kinds of towns. Dearbhla, Ireland

    • Thank you for visiting and your kind observations. I liked the Seamus Heaney post on your blogg, I have a deep connection with “Digging” and not only to read it but to hear the great man read it himself stirs up such great imagery. Keep posting, I’ll be back to read more of your blog shortly. Also, thanks for wandering around some of my older posts, I can honestly say I was finding my feet back then but the last year has been such a journey. Dave

  2. You are most welcome Dave. I was just thinking afterwards that, at least in Ireland, profane language has really become part of the vernacular and is used regularly in conversation in a non-offensive manner. However, I am only new to this blogging lark and am starting to realise how wide the audience is for what we write and that to some people in some societies profane language is always offensive and your explanation of your usage of it in this poem might be welcomed by such people. I must admit to being careful about what I say around my five year old. It is hard to beat Heaney isn’t it – our Poet Laureate. A fine and learned man. I plan to read more of your more recent work. I’m sure I will enjoy it. For the record, I am Bi-Polar (Dysphoric) so was intrigued by the name of your blog! Dearbhla

    • Apologies for the delay in replying. Glad to hear you have found a space to be expressive, at first I found the anonymity of WordPress just what I needed, enough space to write what I wanted, when I needed to. Its a good community and even though Ive been going for over a year ive talked with some great people who have helped me on both a personal and poetic level. Keep posting and I’ll keep reading.

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