Monday 20 August 2012

Then And Now

Hilary at The Smitten Image
has included this post
in her

Age And Infancy
Charles Edward Marshall 1872-1922

Do you remember how big our world was, when we were little,
how important ? And we too were important.
Fearlessly parting meadows of tall grass, we swam into the unknown,
daisy chains, bees and butterflies, and creepy-crawlies of wondrous hue our reward.

How big our house was, a castle, for playing hide and seek,
stairs to mount and "look, I can fly", when coming back to earth again.
And grandad by the fire, in the deep, wide chair, a fortress too high to climb,
open arms lifting us to a safe haven in a breathless storm.

Remember our street, alive with the sound of  adventure;
jumping gutters as deep as any brook, we crossed untamed deserts to reach the oasis of
broken pavements where our friends played on the other side of the road. 
Scooters, tri-cyles, bi-cycles, legs pumping, we raced the wind.

How high the trees were, how loud the thunder,
the snow deep as the deepest feather bed,
how bright the sun, and how dark the clouds.
Days as long as years and years unimaginable.

And how clever they were, our minders and teachers,
how great their knowledge and wisdom.
They knew the way to the secrets of all the ages,
and they knew how to mend broken shins.

But all things must change.
We grew a little, in years and in inches,
mountains became hills and chairs mere seats.
Thunder and darkness now hold no fears,
grass must be mowed and daisies are weeds. 
We regret the smallness of houses,
sedately descend each flight of stairs.
Minders and teachers ourselves,
still hoping for knowledge and wisdom,
still lacking the art to mend broken hearts.


  1. Then and now, what a difference. I was looking through old photo albums and found a photo of my granddad's old house in Fon du Lac
    Wisconsin. My grandparents had it constructed in 1916 and when I visited it as a child, I thought it was huge. We kids loved to run all over it and play hide and seek. My favorite spot to hide was the laundry chute. My sibs would look for me in the attic, the celler and every floor and never find me, although I always hid in the same place.

    Fast forward. We visited the house a couple of years ago and the thing that stuck me the most was how very small it was. Time is like that.

    Thanks for your lovely tribute to the two perspectives. I think my favorite image is parting the grass which was eye-level. Another great place to hide. Dianne

  2. I do remember all those things -- we would get our bathing suits on and splash around in the gutters after a rain. We'd take a lunch and go out to our "fort" in the woods and stay there all day . . . lovely post.

  3. I am shaking my head with chills up my arms and over my scalp. Deeply moved.

  4. I always have wondered how the house I lived in as a child moved so close to the sidewalk once we left. Where did the front yard go?

  5. I do not know how you were able to crawl into that time but you did it well. I reminded me of children's books during that time.

  6. Very nostalgic. Perspective is everything.

  7. Für mich ist es immer mal zwischendurch wichtig zurück zu blicken, ja, in die Kindheit und wie es sich entwickelt hat. Es ist gut solche Erinnerungen zu bewahren. Klar, die Zeit hat sich gewaltig verändert und bietet sich gut an, einmal darüber nachzudenken, welche war besser...

    Lieben Gruß

  8. You are very brave to do poetry. I sometimes write a poem but almost never publish them because I think they might be stupid. I like yours very much, and I like the concept. I remember once going back to a house I lived in for a couple of years as a child and being amazed at how tiny it was. I didn't remember it that way at all.

    I also admire your poem for being clear and understandable. So much poetry isn't these days.

  9. I love your post, especially the last line. Life did seem so grand when we were young and small :) Cheers, Ruby

  10. The vastness of our worlds as children when even a field of daisies could enrapture all afternoon.

    You done good there, Friko, beautiful and evocative.


  11. Beautiful! I am deeply touched by this. Life is about change, but we carry those feelings and beliefs with us that once convinced of our view of the world before we learned the world was not what it seemed.

  12. def so realate to was a much different world when i was little...we played in the woods and roamed for miles always off on some adventure....

  13. Beautiful evocative images of childhood's end. I love it and will read it again just to savor it a bit more...

  14. How acutely I feel this right now. Thanks Friko.

  15. I miss saying "Look I can fly!" I loved tumbling down hills and jumping down the big steps at the convent school I attended. I really thought I could fly until I jumped off a too high ledge one day and didn't. About 15 years ago, I went back to my hometown for a visit and felt exactly as you described. The house, the streets, the hills. Everything was SO SMALL and seemed greyer and grubbier. I don't think I ever want to go back again. Better to live with the memories.

  16. Dear Friko, it's that last line "still lacking the art to mend broken hearts" that makes me weep. So often I want to make things right for others. And yet who am I to say that I even know what is right for anyone else. Often I'm not ever sure what's right for me. And would mending a broken heart be for the best or is the wound an experience that will lead to great wisdom and understanding? I simply find life such a mystery and I mostly muddle through, hoping that the compass of my heart is pointed toward compassion and growth in the human spirit. That just has to be enough for me as I age. Or at least, that's where I am now. Peace.

  17. Danke für die vielen Erinnerungen und diesen wunderbaren Text !

  18. ....I'm pleased I "grew a little in years and in inches" I'm glad that time came, as childhood held little joy for me and the wings of time can oft lessen but not completely mend the pain of a broken heart.
    This verse you wrote Friko, is beautiful, and joyous .... and haunting.

  19. And you are, I see, a poet too. You thought not, as I recall, but this gives the lie to that (at least in my oh so humble opinion . . .). This, the most beautiful and true line of so many, at least to me: "still lacking the art to mend broken hearts."

  20. So much of this evokes my childhood . . . which was pretty magical for the first ten years.

  21. Years unimaginable...oh, yes. I remember how huge my home seemed as a child, and the moment of shock when I realized it was not. Thank you for remembering what childhood is all about, and making it palpable.

  22. And how big the monster behind that cupboard door must be ....

  23. John Betjeman wrote, "Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows." He was right, of course.

  24. I haven’t read better than this poem about our loss, the grown ups’ loss of power to enter the kingdom, or the spirit of the exciting game, which seemed to us infinite

    I enjoy spending time with my one-year-eight-month granddaughter and my siblings’ grandchildren up to age of 8. They are bundle of energy. It’s fun to go the distance to see things their way. I’d like to watch over them without all of our grown up expectations and judgments.


  25. Frico, it's very sincere and heartfelt poem!

  26. If poignancy could speak, these would be her very words. Such a beautifully composed poem, Friko and what vivid imagery. Absolutely brilliant.
    True, it is one heck of a journey, from being a carefree child to a careworn adult.

  27. I was amused by your label "attempt at poetry." I like this very much, most of all the poignant closing lines.

  28. Friko - I DO remember - perhaps the Grandkids keep me in touch with my Inner Child. But, I'm still not great at mending of any kind - ESP if it involves hearts. Great post!

  29. Everyone loved your poem because everyone can relate to it. So true. What happened to all this? Life went by …

  30. I remember. So true. Great poem.

  31. Wonderful words
    words that brought back memories
    Now my little granddaughter's
    help me to travel back to a
    different time.
    But then
    times changes too quickly.
    Thank you...

  32. Yes, when will I be wise? I think, never.

  33. I can remember when it was all warmed-up honey. Oh wait. That is historical rewrite....but anyway ;o.~Mary

  34. Hi Friko - great read .. so appropriate for this day and age - a time to reflect on how life was .. and remember how precious each and everything is ... too true - cheers Hilary

  35. Very nice. I struggle with poetry but I didn't struggle here at all. Lovely.

  36. Friko- This excellent piece needs to be published more widely. I feel so glad to have caught it in the cataract of the blogosphere. It should be in a magazine, or compendium.

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral


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