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Best Famous Vernon Scannell Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Vernon Scannell poems. This is a select list of the best famous Vernon Scannell poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Vernon Scannell poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Vernon Scannell poems.

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Written by Vernon Scannell |

They Did Not Expect This

 They did not expect this.
Being neither wise nor brave And wearing only the beauty of youth's season They took the first turning quite unquestioningly And walked quickly without looking back even once.
It was of course the wrong turning.
First they were nagged By a small wind that tugged at their clothing like a dog; Then the rain began and there was no shelter anywhere, Only the street and the rows of houses stern as soldiers.
Though the blood chilled, the endearing word burnt the tongue.
There were no parks or gardens or public houses: Midnight settled and the rain paused leaving the city Enormous and still like a great sleeping seal.
At last they found accommodation in a cold Furnished room where they quickly learnt to believe in ghosts; They had their hope stuffed and put on the mantelpiece But found, after a while, that they did not notice it.
While she spends many hours looking in the bottoms of teacups He reads much about association football And waits for the marvellous envelope to fall: Their eyes are strangers and they rarely speak.
They did not expect this.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

A City Remembered

 Unlovely city, to which few tourists come
With squinting cameras and alien hats;
Left under a cloud by those who love the sun
And can afford to marry – a cloud of bits
Of soot more myriad than gnats, a cloud
Of smoke and rain, an insubstantial threat
Whose colour is the pigment of long wrath,
I think of you, surprised to find my blood
Warmed by a wry desire, a kind of love.
I see the trams, like galleons at night, Go rocking with their golden cargo down The iron hills; then hearing that bold din My other senses frolic at a fête Of phantom guests – the smells of fish and chips, Laborious smoke, stale beer and autumn gusts, The whispering shadows and the winking hips, The crack of frosty whips, brief summer"s dust.
And in that city through a forked November Love, like a Catherine-wheel, delighted me And when it sputtered out, hung charred and sombre, The city flavoured my delicious misery.
And so I guess that any landscape"s beauty Is fathered by associative joys Held in a shared, historic memory, For beauty is the shape of our desires.
My northern city, then, by many called Ugly or worse, much like an aged nurse Tender yet stern who taught one how to walk, Is dear to me, and it will always have A desolate enchantment that I"ll love.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Juan In Middle Age

 The appetite which leads him to her bed 
Is not unlike the lust of boys for cake 
Except he knows that after he has fed 
He'll suffer more than simple belly-ache.
He'll groan to think what others have to pay As price for his obsessive need to know That he's a champion still, though slightly grey, And both his skill and gameness clearly show.
And after this quick non-decision bout, As he in his dark corner gasping lies, He'll hear derision like a distant shout While kisses press like pennies on his eyes.

More great poems below...

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Ageing Schoolmaster

 And now another autumn morning finds me
With chalk dust on my sleeve and in my breath,
Preoccupied with vague, habitual speculation
On the huge inevitability of death.
Not wholly wretched, yet knowing absolutely That I shall never reacquaint myself with joy, I sniff the smell of ink and chalk and my mortality And think of when I rolled, a gormless boy, And rollicked round the playground of my hours, And wonder when precisely tolled the bell Which summoned me from summer liberties And brought me to this chill autumnal cell From which I gaze upon the april faces That gleam before me, like apples ranged on shelves, And yet I feel no pinch or prick of envy Nor would I have them know their sentenced selves.
With careful effort I can separate the faces, The dull, the clever, the various shapes and sizes, But in the autumn shades I find I only Brood upon death, who carries off all the prizes.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

A Case Of Murder

 They should not have left him there alone, 
Alone that is except for the cat.
He was only nine, not old enough To be left alone in a basement flat, Alone, that is, except for the cat.
A dog would have been a different thing, A big gruff dog with slashing jaws, But a cat with round eyes mad as gold, Plump as a cushion with tucked-in paws--- Better have left him with a fair-sized rat! But what they did was leave him with a cat.
He hated that cat; he watched it sit, A buzzing machine of soft black stuff, He sat and watched and he hated it, Snug in its fur, hot blood in a muff, And its mad gold stare and the way it sat Crooning dark warmth: he loathed all that.
So he took Daddy's stick and he hit the cat.
Then quick as a sudden crack in glass It hissed, black flash, to a hiding place In the dust and dark beneath the couch, And he followed the grin on his new-made face, A wide-eyed, frightened snarl of a grin, And he took the stick and he thrust it in, Hard and quick in the furry dark.
The black fur squealed and he felt his skin Prickle with sparks of dry delight.
Then the cat again came into sight, Shot for the door that wasn't quite shut, But the boy, quick too, slammed fast the door: The cat, half-through, was cracked like a nut And the soft black thud was dumped on the floor.
Then the boy was suddenly terrified And he bit his knuckles and cried and cried; But he had to do something with the dead thing there.
His eyes squeezed beads of salty prayer But the wound of fear gaped wide and raw; He dared not touch the thing with his hands So he fetched a spade and shovelled it And dumped the load of heavy fur In the spidery cupboard under the stair Where it's been for years, and though it died It's grown in that cupboard and its hot low purr Grows slowly louder year by year: There'll not be a corner for the boy to hide When the cupboard swells and all sides split And the huge black cat pads out of it.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Where Shall We Go?

 Waiting for her in the usual bar
He finds she's late again.
Impatience frets at him, But not the fearful, half-sweet pain he knew So long ago.
That cherished perturbation is replaced By styptic irritation And, under that, a cold Dark current of dejection moves That this is so.
There was a time when all her failings were Delights he marvelled at: It seemed her clumsiness, Forgetfulness and wild non-sequiturs Could never grow Wearisome, nor would he ever tire Of doting on those small Blemishes that proved Her beauty as the blackbird's gloss affirms The bridal snow.
The clock above the bar records her theft Of time he cannot spare; Then suddenly she's here.
He stands to welcome and accuse her with A grey 'Hello'.
And sees, for one sly instant, in her eyes His own aggrieved dislike Wince back at him before Her smile draws blinds.
'Sorry I'm late,' she says.
'Where shall we go?'

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Makers And Creatures

 It is a curious experience
And one you"re bound to know, though probably
In other realms than that of literature,
Though I speak of poems now, assuming
That you are interested, otherwise,
Of course, you wouldn"t be reading this.
It is strange to come across a poem In an old magazine, perhaps, and fail At first to see that it"s your own.
Sometimes you think, grateful and surprised, "That"s really not too bad", or gloomily: "Many have done as well and far, far better".
Or, in despair, "My God that"s terrible.
What was I thinking of to publish it".
And then you start to wonder how the great Poets felt, seeing, surprised, their poems As strangers, beautiful.
And how do all the Makers feel to see their creatures live: The carpenter, the architect, the man who Crochets intricate embroideries Of steel across the sky.
And how does God Feel, looking at his poems, his creatures? The swelling inhalation of plump hills, Plumage of poplars on the pale horizon, Fishleap flashing in pools cool as silver, Great horses haunched with glossy muscles And birds who spray their song like apple juice And the soft shock of snow.
He must feel good Surprised again by these.
But what happens When He takes a look at Man? Does He say, "That"s really not too bad", Or does He, as I fear, Wince ruefully and mutter to Himself: "What was I thinking of publishing that one"?

Written by Vernon Scannell |


 That one small boy with a face like pallid cheese 
And burnt-out little eyes could make a blaze 
As brazen, fierce and huge, as red and gold 
And zany yellow as the one that spoiled 
Three thousand guineas' worth of property 
And crops at Godwin's Farm on Saturday 
Is frightening---as fact and metaphor: 
An ordinary match intended for 
The lighting of a pipe or kitchen fire 
Misused may set a whole menagerie 
Of flame-fanged tigers roaring hungrily.
And frightening, too, that one small boy should set The sky on fire and choke the stars to heat Such skinny limbs and such a little heart Which would have been content with one warm kiss Had there been anyone to offer this.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Lesson In Grammar


Perhaps I can make it plain by analogy.
Imagine a machine, not yet assembled, Each part being quite necessary To the functioning of the whole: if the job is fumbled And a vital piece mislaid The machine is quite valueless, The workers will not be paid.
It is just the same when constructing a sentence But here we must be very careful And lay stress on the extreme importance Of defining our terms: nothing is as simple As it seems at first regard.
"Sentence" might well mean to you The amorous rope or twelve years" hard.
No, by "sentence" we mean, quite simply, words Put together like the parts of a machine.
Now remember we must have a verb: verbs Are words of action like Murder, Love, or Sin.
But these might be nouns, depending On how you use them – Already the plot is thickening.
Except when the mood is imperative; that is to say A command is given like Pray, Repent, or Forgive (Dear me, these lessons get gloomier every day) Except, as I was saying, when the mood is gloomy – I mean imperative We need nouns, or else of course Pronouns; words like Maid, Man, Wedding or Divorce.
A sentence must make sense.
Sometimes I believe Our lives are ungrammatical.
I guess that some of you Have misplaced the direct object: the longer I live The less certain I feel of anything I do.
But now I begin To digress.
Write down these simple sentences:-- I am sentenced: I love: I murder: I sin.

Written by Vernon Scannell |


 My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
'Bed' seemed a curious name for those green spears, That regiment of spite behind the shed: It was no place for rest.
With sobs and tears The boy came seeking comfort and I saw White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin, And then I took my billhook, honed the blade And went outside and slashed in fury with it Till not a nettle in that fierce parade Stood upright any more.
And then I lit A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead, But in two weeks the busy sun and rain Had called up tall recruits behind the shed: My son would often feel sharp wounds again.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Schoolroom On A Wet Afternoon

 The unrelated paragraphs of morning
Are forgotten now; the severed heads of kings
Rot by the misty Thames; the roses of York
And Lancaster are pressed between the leaves
Of history; Negroes sleep in Africa.
The complexities of simple interest lurk In inkwells and the brittle sticks of chalk: Afternoon is come and English Grammar.
Rain falls as though the sky has been bereaved, Stutters its inarticulate grief on glass Of every lachrymose pane.
The children read Their books or make pretence of concentration, Each bowed head seems bent in supplication Or resignation to the fate that waits In the unmapped forests of the future.
Is it their doomed innocence noon weeps for? In each diminutive breast a human heart Pumps out the necessary blood: desires, Pains and ecstasies surf-ride each singing wave Which breaks in darkness on the mental shores.
Each child is disciplined; absorbed and still At his small desk.
Yet lift the lid and see, Amidst frayed books and pencils, other shapes: Vicious rope, glaring blade, the gun cocked to kill.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Silver Wedding

 Silver Wedding

The party is over and I sit among
The flotsam that its passing leaves,
The dirty glasses and fag-ends:
Outside, a black wind grieves.
Two decades and a half of marriage; It does not really seem as long, Of youth's ebullient song.
David, my son, my loved rival, And Julia, my tapering daughter, Now grant me one achievement only; I turn their wine to water.
And Helen, partner of all these years, Helen, my spouse, my sack of sighs, Reproaches me for every hurt With injured, bovine eyes.
There must have been passion once, I grant, But neither she nor I could bear To have its ghost come prowling from Its dark and frowsy lair.
And we, to keep our nuptials warm, Still wage sporadic war; Numb with insult each yet strives To scratch the other raw.
Twenty-five years we've now survived; I'm not sure either why or how As I sit with a wreath of quarrels set On my tired and balding brow.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

The Men Who Wear My Clothes

 Sleepless I lay last night and watched the slow 
Procession of the men who wear my clothes: 
First, the grey man with bloodshot eyes and sly 
Gestures miming what he loves and loathes.
Next came the cheery knocker-back of pints, The beery joker, never far from tears, Whose loud and public vanity acquaints The careful watcher with his private fears.
And then I saw the neat mouthed gentle man Defer politely, listen to the lies, Smile at the tedious tale and gaze upon The little mirrors in the speaker's eyes.
The men who wear my clothes walked past my bed And all of them looked tired and rather old; I felt a chip of ice melt in my blood.
Naked I lay last night, and very cold.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

The Terrible Abstractions

 The naked hunter's fist, bunched round his spear, 
Was tight and wet inside with sweat of fear; 
He heard behind him what the hunted hear.
The silence in the undergrowth crept near; Its mischief tickled in his nervous ear And he became the prey, the quivering deer.
The naked hunter feared the threat he knew: Being hunted, caught, then slaughtered like a ewe By beasts who padded on four legs or two.
The naked hunter in the bus or queue Under his decent wool is frightened too But not of what his hairy forebear knew.
The terrible abstractions prowl about The compound of his fear and chronic doubt; He keeps fires burning boldly all night through, But cannot keep the murderous shadows out.

Written by Vernon Scannell |

Wife Killer

 He killed his wife at night.
He had tried once or twice in the daylight But she refused to die.
In darkness the deed was done, Not crudely with a hammer-hard gun Or strangler's black kid gloves on.
She just ceased being alive, Not there to interfere or connive, Linger, leave or arrive.
It seemed almost as though Her death was quite normal and no Clue to his part would show.
So then, with impunity, He called up that buttocky beauty He had so long longed to see All covering gone: the double Joggle of warm weighty bubbles Was sweet delirious trouble.
And all night, all night he enjoyed her; Such sport in her smooth dimpled water; Then daylight came like a warder.
And he rose and went down to the larder Where the mouse-trap again had caught a Piece of stale gorgonzola.
His wife wore her large woollen feet.
She said that he was late And asked what he wanted to eat, But said nothing about the murder--- And who, after all, could have told her? He said that he fancied a kipper.