About the poet
Brian Patten (b. 1946) has written many books of poetry for adults and children, as well as...
This poem features in guided tours by:
The Minister for Exams
When I was a child I sat an exam
The test was so simple
There was no way I could fail.
Question 1. Describe the taste of the moon.
It tastes like Creation, I wrote,
It has the flavour of starlight.
Question 2. What colour is Love?
Love is the colour of the water a man
lost in the desert finds, I wrote.
Question 3. Why do snowflakes melt?
I wrote, they melt because they fall
onto the warm tongue of God.
There were other questions.
They were as simple.
I described the grief of Adam when he was expelled from Eden.
I wrote down the exact weight of an elephant's dream.
Yet today, many years later,
for my living I sweep the streets
or clean out the toilets of the fat hotels.
Why? Because I constantly failed my exams.
Why? Well, let me set a test.
Question 1. How large is a child's imagination?
Question 2. How shallow is the soul of the Minister for Exams?
from Armada (Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1996), copyright © Brian Patten 1996, used by permission of the author.
Brian Patten Reading from his poems