Poem introduction

This first poem recalls a primary school activity. I don’t know if children in primary schools are still asked to do this kind of thing…

The Age of Innocence

At school, we all had to pick a plague
out of Exodus; round the table,
elbowing each other in innocent enthusiasm,
the girls drew mostly feverish first-borns, the boys
boils and frogs; while I fancied the river of blood.
Except some little s-d had pinched all the reds.
So I did locusts: houses, palm trees, pyramids
carefully laid in; arabs arranged unsuspecting,
a sudden camel; stood back, aimed, and

FURIOUS blitzings with the pencil,
God’s green pepper milling down,
marvellously missing Moses,
tucked with his rifle in the margin.
Our work went up round the walls, whereon
the headmistress appeared
in a clap of lavender,
benign and gratified,
and scattered gold stars like benedictions.

 


from Home and Away (Bloodaxe, 1987), © Steve Ellis 1987, used by permission of the author

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Recordings

Steve Ellis Downloads

1The Age of Innocence

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2Gardeners' Question Time

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3Recipe

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4Rubbish

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5Washing

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7Scenes From Childhood, parts 1, 2 and 4

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8The Holiday Jigsaw

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9United

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10St Francis’s ‘Cantico di frate sole’ done into Hollywood gangsterese

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11Milkman on winter mornings

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12Shoe

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13On Completing His Thirtieth Year

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14White horse

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15Genocide

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16To Ted Hughes

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17On a Royal Doulton figurine of Anne Boleyn

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19The land

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20An Old Plate’s Farewell to the Table

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21Cats listening to Cole Porter

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22Spring Collection: Crocuses / Spring Fayre / Daffodils at Baddesley

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23Slips

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24Letter to an editor

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25Wotox

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26Assembling the orrery

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27Summer ’84

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29Ancor non m’abbandona

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30Hols

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31Ad Patrem

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32On Re-Reading the Liverpool Poets

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33St Tropez: Yorkshire Impressions

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34The Bodybuilder

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35On the visible ageing of Steve Davis

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36Fish and Chips

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37Elegy on the Fishing Correspondent

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38Sending out Christmas cards

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38March 28

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40Inferno 3.22–136

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6Man of Sorrows

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18'The Angling Times'

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28The death of Joe Loss

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