There was a hope for poetry in the sixties
And for education and society, teachers free
To do as they wanted: I could and did teach
Poetry and art all day and little else -
That was my way.
I threw rainbows against the classroom walls,
Gold and silver dragons in the corridors and
Halls; the children’s eyes were full of stars;
I taught the alphabet in Greek and spoke of
Peace and war in Vietnam, of birth and sex and
Death and immortality - the essences of lyric poetry;
Richards and Ogden on ‘The Meaning of Meaning’,
Schopenhauer on sadness, Nietzsche and Lawrence on
Civilisation and Plato on the Theory of Forms;
I read aloud ‘The Rainbow’ and the children drew
The waterfall with Gudrun bathing, I showed
Them Gauguin and Fra Angelico in gold and a film
On painting from life, and the nude girls
It was the Sixties -
Art was life and life was art and in the
Staff-room we talked of poetry and politics
And passionately I argued with John.
Psychologist, on Freud and Jung; Anne, at forty
One, wanted to be sterilised and amazingly asked
My advice but that was how it was then: Dianne
Went off to join weekly rep at Brighton, Dave
Clark had given up law to teach a ‘D’ stream in the
I was more lucky and had the brightest
Children - Sheila Pritchard my genius child-poet with
Her roguish eye and high bright voice, drawing skulls
In Avernus and burning white chrysanthemums, teasing me
With her long legs and gold salmon-flecked eyes.
It was a surprise when I made it into Penguin Books;
Michael Horovitz busy then as now and madly idealistic
As me; getting ready for the Albert Hall jamboree,
The rainbow bomb of peace and poetry.
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