A poem by Edward Lucie-Smith

Poet X

The Lesson

"Your father's gone," my bald headmaster said.

His shining dome and brown tobacco jar

Splintered at once in tears. It wasn't grief.

I cried for knowledge which was bitterer

Than any grief. For there and then I knew

That grief has its uses -- that a father dead

Could bind a bully's fist a week or two;

And then I cried for shame, then for relief.  

I was a month past ten when I learnt this:

I still remember how the noise was stilled

In school-assembly when my grief came in.

Some goldfish in a bowl quietly sculled

Around their shining prison on its shelf.

They were indifferent. All the other eyes

Were turned towards me. Somewhere in myself

Pride, like a goldfish, flashed a sudden fin.

Edward Lucie-Smith

Edward Lucie-Smith was editor of many poetry anthologies and other important references (such as EXPERIMENTAL POETRY: 1, A PRIMER). See various web pages (including a page at Shergood Forest). This poem was found online at thestar.com's website with a nice explication discussing grief and childhood.