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The TRUTH, the WHOLE truth & NOTHING BUT …

September 16, 2019

On 3rd October it will be National Poetry Day in the UK, when this year’s theme is TRUTH. In conjunction with publishers Schofield and Sims, I am delighted to have contributed a National Poetry Day themed activity for teachers (or for children to explore by themselves). I chose a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah, with a light-hearted, humorous look at the subject of truth. Click here to view.

Here’s a differently light-hearted look at truth in my own poem, published here for the first time:

The Crocodile Trial

Crocodile sat in the criminal courtroom,
Charged with murder of an innocent youth.
He smiled at the judge. He smiled at the jury.
“I promise,” he smiled, “to tell the truth.”

Then he snapped his jaws at the judge and the jury.
They gasped in horror – he was so uncouth!
He had come to the court without a toothbrush,
Half a leg dangled from a big back tooth.

Down slammed the hammer of the judge in the courtroom.
“Guilty!” cried the jury. “Guilty!” cried the judge.
“It isn’t my fault,” said Crocodile, crying,
“I did try flossing but it just won’t budge!”

The judge explained, “You are guilty of murder;
Guilty of gobbling an innocent youth.”
“Oh, yes, that’s true,” said Crocodile, smiling,
“That is how the leg got stuck in my tooth.”

“As long as you know,” added Crocodile, blushing,
“As long as you realise,” he went quite red,
“…that I always clean my teeth, I was brought up properly;
I always clean my teeth before I go to bed!”

© Celia Warren 2019

Truth might seem to be a very simple theme – either something is true or it isn’t. But life isn’t as black and white as that. If a dozen people witness an event and afterwards recount what they truthfully believe they heard and saw, their accounts will differ. It is human nature. It is something courts of law have to take into account when listening to witnesses to crimes or offences, and why they demand that people on trial, and witnesses, tell the TRUTH, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING BUT the truth.

Sometimes people hold such strong beliefs that they become convinced that their beliefs are The Absolute Truth. They will rationalise their beliefs by being selective in ‘facts’ they use to justify their viewpoint – maybe without even realising they are doing so. Some might feel small lies along the way justify what they believe to be a larger truth at the end of the path. Others may tell ‘white lies’ to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings. There are many occasions when telling the truth – which sounds simple and straight-forward – becomes a grey area.

Below I am sharing some new poems of my own, written in a more serious voice, aimed at older children and grown-ups, the first recalling a memory from my childhood. I hope you enjoy reading them and that, whether you agree with them or not, they might encourage you to delve deeper into the origins of things you are told. Never accept anyone’s ‘truth’ at face value. Do not allow scaremongering to make you too afraid to ask questions. Remember, even well-informed adults can disagree over big issues. Always try and make up your own mind.

copyright Celia Warren 2019 grass

Grass Roots

In short socks, through long days,
where blades of grass were nettle-high,
we’d tunnel through the grass a maze
and share our secret only with the sky.
Till somewhere, in a far-off foreign land,
collared nettle-grasping fiends
saw Heaven as neglect and took in hand
our wilderness, thought up machines:
Green-gobblers they planned,
to create a children’s park:
Neat and tidy. Safe and sound.
Kill-joy careful clerks
patted backs, tightened ties,
and smugly smiled.
We watched our world destroyed by lies,
our truth was in the wild.
What price a mended seesaw
for a maze? – Where’s the sense
in chopping down a hedgerow
for a fence?

© Celia Warren 2019

The Song of the Silenced Scientist

If I am gullible,
I have no choice:
I follow the crowd.

If I am sceptical,
I have no voice:
I’m not allowed

to work in research,
to air my views,
to have my say
on the media news,

to check the facts,
share all the data.
If I try
I am deemed a hater

of people, of planet;
I’m not born again
into popular culture
of faithful men

and women, who want
to accept the blame,
and pay the piper
who stands to gain.

Galileo recanted.
Darwin survived.
Dinosaurs came
and dinosaurs died.

Our sun is a star
with a limited life.
When its time is up
what price such strife?

© Celia Warren 2019

Feel free to enjoy the poems and other content on this site, but please remember that all text and pictures are copyright. Do not reproduce them without permission. Thank you.


 

 

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Little limericks

September 1, 2019

… about tiny tots:baby hand

 

 

 

I’m a granny; our daughter gave birth.
And her daughter’s the sweetest on earth.
Though she’s only days old,
Were she measured in gold,
More than thrice her own weight she’d be worth.

© Celia Warren 2019

Our little grand-daughter is actually a few weeks old now – growing lovelier every day. Although she is still too young to smile, never mind chuckle, her arrival has brought to mind another limerick that I wrote some years ago:

All gurgling and milky with slurpiness,
Baby brings up her wind in all burpiness.
Each kicking leg buckles
In time with her chuckles
As she gleefully burbles her chirpiness.

© Celia Warren 2019

There’s nothing like a new baby in the family to set the rhythm and rhyme gene in motion – so I’m particularly proud and pleased to be included in Poems Out Loud! – newly out from Ladybird books. Gorgeously illustrated by Laurie Stansfield, the book includes a CD of contributing poets reading their own poems. To mix metaphors – poetry cries out to be read out aloud, so this is the icing on the cake!

PoemsOutLoud book cover

Lunar Lines

July 20, 2019

full moon July 2019 copyright Celia Warren

Fifty years ago today two American astronauts on the Apollo 11 space mission – Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin – landed on the moon and became the first humans to walk on its dusty surface. At the same time, astronaut Michael Collins orbited the moon in the command module. What a lonely adventure that must have been as he flew solo round the ‘dark side’ of the moon (the side we never see from Earth)!

I was still at school in 1969 and well remember the excitement of watching the “small step for man … giant leap for mankind” happening live. I also remember looking up at the moon, in awe to think that, even as I gazed at it, people were standing on its surface.

This anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for poets to celebrate the beauty of our moon, and many such poems – including a couple of mine – are highlighted in Roger Stevens’ fabulous anthology featuring poets from around the world. MOONSTRUCK is published by Otter-Barry, ISBN 9781910959657.

Meanwhile, here are some moon poems and photos of my own for you to enjoy. Please remember that these are copyright and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without permission. Thank you.

 

Poor Old Phoebe* © Celia Warren 2019

Some thought her a god
and worshipped her on their knees.
Others, not so kind,
said she was made of cheese
until, in 1969,
without so much as a pretty please,
they walked all over her, even cut
pieces from her lunar gut.
Yet still she shines
in poets’ lines,
none of her romance gone
despite being trodden upon.

*Phoebe was the Ancient Roman name of the Goddess of the moon; also called Artemis in Ancient Greek legend. Often, the name Phoebe is used poetically to mean The Moon.

 

When Nobody Switched Off the Moon © Celia Warren 2019
                           1939-1945
      in fond memory of my parents

No telltale beams allowed after dark:
in wartime that was the law,
but no-one told the peaceful moon –
she knew not a whisper of war.

In the blackout, a young mother worried at home –
her husband was who-knew-where,
but they knew both looked at the self-same sky
and the moon was theirs to share.

For moonbeams shine on all the earth
at home and far abroad.
No blackout can steal the light of the moon,
of Phoebe the ancients’ god.

 
The Moon and her Mother © Celia Warren 2019
              after Aesop

“Make me a gown,” begged the moon of her mother.
“Please make me a gown,” cried she.
“It cannot be done,” the moon’s mother replied,
“for what size and shape would it be?”

“At times you’re as full and as round as the sun;
at other times, thin as a blade,
and in between you wax and wane,
so no fit gown can be made.”

 

COPYRIGHT CELIA WARREN 2019 i

Queen of the Quatrain

July 13, 2019

ThosRussellSchool_Y4_L's class

I was recently described as ‘queen of the quatrain’ in appreciation of my little four-line poems. When I visit schools I like to make sure every child can take home a poem or two – not in their hands, but in their heads – and quatrains are quick and easy to learn. This poem proved so popular that it was picked, in the year 2000, to be cast in metal and appear (on a fire station wall) as part of a poetry trail. If ever you visit the Hampshire town of Stockbridge, you might spot it. It’s called Ten:Nil.

ThosRussellSchool_Ten Nil part 1

ThosRussellSchool_Ten Nil part 2

 

These Year 4 children from the Thomas Russell Junior School in Staffordshire had no trouble learning this poem and were soon joining in with gusto.

Ten:Nil and another of my favourite quatrains, Mr Snail, both appear in my Collins Big Cat collection Star-gazing. Recently some young fans sent me a recording of their performance of this little snail poem. You may need to log on to Facebook to see it, but I am sure you will enjoy it.

Why not have a go at writing your own quatrain? You can rhyme each pair of lines, or alternate lines. Or you might, as I have done with these two verses, make just the second and fourth lines rhyme. Have fun!

 

Long journeys

June 3, 2019

copyright Celia Warren 2019.JPG

After six weeks in Australia I’m now back home in the UK and slowly getting used to walking right way up again! The trip to Australia was the longest journey I’ve ever made. The journeys each way took about 36 hours ‘door to door’ — about 9000 miles to reach Perth — and about 10,500 miles to return from Hobart, Tasmania, via Melbourne. In between, I visited Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, too. What a fabulous trip it was! It’s inspired a lot of writing — here’s just one poem for starters:

Not out of Bounds

Australia-bound I’d hoped to find a bounding kangaroo.
I was jumping to conclusions as my mind is prone to do.

I didn’t find one jumping, nor one about to bound,
but several sleeping soundly on the cooler, shady ground

and one who had a joey peeping keenly from her pouch.
But then I saw a kangaroo approaching, so I crouched

beside him in the midday sun, and silently we spoke,
through looking in each other’s eyes. This one I gave a stroke.

I did – I really did it: I stroked a kangaroo!
I’m bound to say that, all along, that’s what I’d hoped to do.

© Celia Warren 2019

I have returned to a number of new books waiting in my postbox. One of them has reminded me that flying from Britain to Australia is as nothing compared to a trip to the moon. Its distance from Earth varies according to the stage of its orbit but, on average, is about 239,000 miles away.

This summer sees the 50th anniversary of man walking on the surface of the moon. I still remember watching that amazing event live on television when I was 16 years old. In celebration of this exciting anniversary, a fabulous little anthology of moon poems has been edited by Roger Stevens and illustrated by Ed Boxall. I’m proud to say that I have contributed two poems to “Moonstruck”, published by Otter-Barry and in the shops from 6th June 2019.

Moonstruck anthology cover pic

Wubbleyoo for Warren

April 26, 2019

town mouse

Delighted to appear under W for Warren in the lovely Liz Brownlee’s April A-to-Z blog challenge. Liz is not only a fine poet herself, but is also a dedicated Children’s Poetry Ambassador. Check out the whole alphabet and read some fab poems.

The poem on Liz’s site was first published in Star-gazing, Collins Big Cat Poetry.Star-gazing

Hurry over and by the end of the month you will have had the opportunity to meet at least 26 poets and taste their poems.

 

Nearly summer time

March 29, 2019

Well, not really! It’s spring, of course, but as far as the clocks go, it’s nearly summer time.

dandelion clock Celia Warren

“Well, I’m blowed,” said the late March dandelion clock.
“Time springs forward an hour this weekend.”
“Well, I’m blowed,” she repeated. “It’s come as a shock.”
And her flowerhead rapidly weakened.

© Celia Warren 2019

Don’t forget to put your clocks forward one hour at bedtime on Saturday night. As you’ll know if you’re familiar with my poems, I do enjoy a bit of wordplay and puzzles, too. So I was delighted to have a poem included in this new book of puzzle poems collected by Roger Stevens for Bloomsbury: I am a Jigsaw ISBN 978 1 4729 5819 8

I AM A JIGSAW anthology