Francis Scarfe

(1911-1986 / South Shields, England)

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Tyne Dock


The summer season at Tyne Dock
Hoisted my boyhood in a crane
Above the shaggy mining town,
Above the slaghills and the rocks,
Above the middens in backlanes
And wooden hen-huts falling down.

Vermilion grass grew in the street
Where the blind pit-ponies pranced
And poppies screamed by butchers' stalls
Where bulls kicked sparks with dying feet,
And in the naked larks I sensed
A cruel god beneath it all.

Over the pit-head wheel the moon
Was clean as a girl's face in school;
I envied the remote old man
Who lived there, happy and alone,
While in the kitchen the mad spool
Unwound as Annie's treadle ran.

The boyish season is still there
For clapping hands and leaping feet
Across the slagheaps and the dunes;
And still it breaks into my care,
Though I will never find the street,
Nor catch the old, impulsive tune,
Nor ever lose that child's despair.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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  • Rookie - 271 Points Birgitta Abimbola Heikka (4/2/2014 9:24:00 PM)

    Good poem. Liked the sound of the rhythm. Just an advice (you don't have to take it) - could change the 2nd line of the 3rd stanza where you compared the cleanliness of the moon to a girl's face in school. Somehow, that line did not fit with the others. Otherwise excellent poem. Loved it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 393 Points Michelle Claus (3/31/2014 2:45:00 PM)

    Exquisite juxtaposition throughout. For example, And poppies screamed by butchers' stalls. The poet waxes romantically nostalgic, while vividly recalling raw, unsavory details. A provocative poem, I love it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 338 Points Paul Reed (3/31/2014 3:36:00 AM)

    Wonderful poetry with phrases such as 'the moon was clean as a girl's face in school'. All inspired by my town of South Shields, for whcih I have tried hard to represent in poetry but could not hold a candle to this. (Report) Reply

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