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Saturday, 19 February 2011

When we were young: #1

Somewhere in the mind,
just for a second's fleeting glance,
a part, a sixtieth or less,
a shutter opened, and an image
such as we have not seen since, flashed in.
That was our childhood
and it's gone.
"Ah, but," you say, "the light was different then!
We cannot do that now. It does not look the same."
You are correct, the light was different then,
for we were children and we quarried it.
The light, you might say, was bespoke;
the images were as we wanted them.
We pulled them out like polaroids,
but knew the difference between
the instant and the instantaneous.

15 comments:

Jim Murdoch said...

I’m tired this morning and so I misread your title. Instead of ‘When We Were Young’ I read it as “When I Were Young’ which my mind converted to “When I were a lad” an expression I’ve used regularly over the years. Most people assume I’ve pinched it from Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch but really it started with my father who was a Lancashire lad and despite living the bulk of his life in Scotland never lost his accent. We learn nostalgia from our parents. I used to wonder at him diligently watching programmes like The World at War and All Our Yesterdays and wonder what he could possibly be missing. Now, of course, I understand and you have no idea how much it amused me when one day I heard my daughter being nostalgic for the 1980s.

As for your poem, it really touched a chord with me. I was very interested in photography in my teens and early twenties but never had the funds to do too much about it. Now I have a nice fancy DSLR and practically never take it off the Auto settings: it’s not the same, it is as if the light is different and why wouldn’t it be because everything is different now. Great punch line. Enjoyed this one.

Kat Mortensen said...

When we are children we are able to distil the essence of things, I think, but sadly we don't recognize their true importance in the scheme of our lives until long after the moments have passed.

Very interesting piece, Dave. I really like those last two lines, in particular.

I look forward to the next instalment, or is that #1 meant to be ironic in a way?


Kat

JeannetteLS said...

Funny, I hang onto the bright moments of my childhood with both hands as if the world hinges on my ability to feel, see, touch them now. As long as no one can see me, I can allow myself to live as that child from time to time, with abandon, with the joy of the moment of such intensity--an intensity we don't allow the adult. Often I CAN do it now. Just as long as I do not see me play--I am the one who is different. The light remains the same.

Another one, Dave, that touches the core.

Elizabeth said...

I have recently been perusing old photos of myself as achild and my choldren when younger. My eldest just turned 12 and is nostalgic for our old house and her bright imagination...I still refer to my mother's hometown as "back home" because she did. I naever lived there...
Beautiful poem.

TechnoBabe said...

Do you find that the way we thought some things were when we were young are so different when we become adults? This writing is nice and reaches everyone.

Adrian LaRoque said...

Young you will be always at heart.

David Cranmer said...

Oh, good lord that was excellent, Dave!

Titus said...

Yes, I'm with Jim, it really did touch a chord. I am pondering, more and more frequently, why it is childhood memories are so very vivid. Wonderful exploration of the theme, and this was the line for me:

for we were children and we quarried it.

120 Socks said...

I think we all can connect to those fleeting memories of childhood, of how things felt more true and real, and yet maybe that is the biggest trick of all, but whatever it is, we all have those memories and maybe they define us more than anything. Another stunner poem!

Hannah Stephenson said...

This reminded me of that Mad Men episode when Don Draper was pitching his concept to Kodak (was it?) for their carousel, which they had previously called The Wheel....all about nostalgia and the idea of the return. Great poem.

Bee's Blog said...

Childhood goes so quickly:"I'm six and a half", "I'm almost eight", "I'll be ten this year" and suddenly it's gone - memories come and go and come again. I can actually remember coming to England at the age of three and hiding under a table in the military quarters we were as they put it, 'being marched into': there was never any marching!! I hid under the table because a man in uniform frightened me! I can even tell you about the blue and white crochet dress made by my grandmother that I was wearing. Yes somewhere in the mind.......

Rachel Fenton said...

Memories, eh? I can only echo Jim and Titus.

Dave King said...

Jim
Your Monty Python story reminds me that way back when I had a serious chest infection and hallucinated, I saw a camel witha first aid cabinet built into its hump. When I had recovered somewhat I sent it as an idea to Monty Python. To the best of my recollection, I received a fiver for it. Now there's abit of nostalgia, if you like!

Ah, so that is what's wrong with my photography, after all! I have been worrying, since posting those old photographs of mine, wondering why, with far superior equipment now, I cannot do as well!!!

Thanks for an interesting response.

Kat
That's right, I am sure. We distilled the essence because our looking wasn't hamstrung by too much knowledge of how things really are - if, indeed, they are!

I maybe should have erased the #. I had the idea of a series of posts - maybe replacing the haiku for a bit - under the general title of Lines (or maybe images) going nowhere. Jottings from my notebooks etc which would be something less than a complete poem. But after I'd posted it, I thought maybe it was a complete poem, so deleted the title, but somehow left the # in place.

Jeanette
Nothing there I'd disagree with! Thanks for it.

Elizabeth
Thanks for those interesting insights - and the comment on my poem.

TechnoBabe
Yes, absolutely, I do find that. Was it different, do you think?

Adrian
That's the poetry does that! Much thanks, though.

David
To tell the truth I am a bit surprised at the response this is getting - but very grateful for it! Thanks.

Titus
Every now and again I come up with some thought about why things were so vivd then, but nothing that finally satisfies me.

120 Socks
Yes, I hink they do define us. And you maybe right in that perhaps it does not ultimately matter whether those memories are accurate or not. Maybe it's just that the immature brain was more impressionable! Appreciate the comment very much.

Hannah
Sounds interesting. You have me there, though: I must confess that I have never seen Mad Men - and have lately begunto think I might be missing out!

Bee
Yes, those memories catch the essence of childhood so very well. Things that frightened us could almost be a sort of genre on their own.

Rachel
Yes, indeed!

Rose said...

delightful little poem. I think as children we see things how they are. perfectly happy with ourselves and content with what we do until we lose our identity to a load of socially adopted norms, losing much of our own creativity and individuality.

David Cranmer said...

A collection, Dave. I am going to be a broken record until you release an antho of your work. eBook may be a perfect format.