Friday, April 9, 2010

N is for Nine and Narrative

Today's poetry collection contains many 19th Century standbys: Tennyson's Lady of Shallot, Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin and Arnold's Forsaken Merman to name just a few. It's easy to imagine Anne Shirley glomming onto this book in order to prepare her recitations. There's also more contemporary narrative verse as well. I like the decidedly English tone of this one:

Uncle Alfred's Long Jump

When Mary Rand
Won the Olympic Long Jump,
My Auntie Hilda
Paced out the distance
On the pavement outside her house.
'Look at that!'
She shouted challengingly
At the dustman, the milkman, the grocer,
Two Jehovah's Witnesses
And a male St. Bernard
Who happened to be passing.
'A girl, a girl did that;
If you men are so clever
Let's see what you can do.'
Nobody took up the challenge
Until Uncle Alfred trudged home
Tired from the office
Asking for tea.
'Our Mary did that!'
Said Auntie Hilda proudly
Pointing from the lamppost
To the rose-bush by her gate.
'You men are so clever,
Let's see how near
That rose-bush you end up.'

His honour and manhood at stake,
Uncle Alfred put down his bowler
His brief-case and his brolly
And launched himself
Into a fifty yard run-up.
'End up at that rose-bush,'
He puffed mockingly,
"I'll show you where I'll end up.'
His take off from the lamppost
Was a thing of beauty,
But where he ended up
Was in The Royal Infirmary
With both legs in plaster.
'Some kind of record!'
He said proudly to the bone specialist;
While through long nights
In a ward full of coughs and snoring
He dreamed about the washing line
And of how to improve
His high jump technique.

--Gareth Owen

for more information on Mary Rand, click here

from, The Oxford Book of Story Poems, edited by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clark. Oxford University Press, 1990, republished in paperback, 2006.

(Note: when quoting poems online, always include a full citation for the collection from which the poem originated. If the poem is not in the public domain (i.e. is still in copyright) abide by the principle of Fair Dealing in your use of the work.)


  1. Yes. I like this one very much.

  2. I really like Poetry Month! Thank you for your diligence, it must be a labor of love of poetry.


  3. Gareth and Owen two of my favourite names! Must be why I love this poem.


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