Pen To Print
pen to print write on showcase

Pipers, Puppets and Pierrots

by Eithne Cullen

ReadFest event: Poetry at the Archive

Our visit to the Archive and Study centre at Valence House was on a fine, quiet Friday. Led by Anna Robinson, a group of Pen to Print poets looked into some local history to find inspiration for our poems.

The archivist had put out a range of documents ranging from Fanshawe’s shipping papers (from 1657) through a number of school log books, H S Williams’ war diary, a resident’s scouting memorabilia and an album of cuttings about the Dagenham Girl Pipers’ war work with ENSA.

We were inspired to write about some local history and local people’s lives…

 

Pipers, Puppets and Pierrots

 

What was it like for you –

lace at your throats and jaunty hats –

eighteen years old and far from home –

kilts swing above your knees and Argyll socks

piping, twirling, dancing, drumming

across a war-torn continent?

 

Posing on peaceful beaches

and exotic Eastern towns.

Concert party, puppets and Pierrots –

moving from place to place

by flying boat and sailing up the Nile.

 

Catching sight of a herd of elephants

for the first time, scared of the

crocodiles along the Nile;

huge footprints outside your rooms

from the hippos’ night stampede.

 

Playing for villagers in some remote place

they reply with music from their drums;

bagpipe music tempts the lions

out of their melancholy

and restores their appetites.

 

Your looks and fair East London skin

drawing offers of romantic love.

Proposals in fifteen lands.

 

Copyright Eithne Cullen 2019

Playing for villagers in some remote place
they reply with music from their drums;
bagpipe music tempts the lions
out of their melancholy
and restores their appetites.