Young Poet

10th July 1998 at 01:00
What strikes me about David Osborne's poem is the way it holds a delicate balance between the images of swimming, fighting and remembering while never letting go of the central message - that the poet misses his father.

Although the writer does not always seem clear when the writing becomes poetry, and when it should move from one line to the next, the qualities that it shares with prose - its clarity and economy - are essential to poetry.

The poem takes the reader effortlessly through a series of quite complex images - that some aspects of a person can be captured on film and some cannot, that thoughts and feelings can flow through a body, that some things are taught and some grown into. The poem does not claim any knowledge of spiritual life or make any general statements; it only speaks of the person the poet knew. Sometimes a poem feels like a look inside another person's mind. Sometimes it feels like a privilege to be allowed to do so.

SIAN HUGHES

Poem at Fifteen

How I miss my father.

I wish he was still here and not defeated in his last battle.

Swimming in a pool I think of him.

I learnt quite quickly, with his help.

I swim with ease and happiness now and know without him I would not do so.

He taught me that to fight for my beliefs and thoughts did not mean I was cruel; though he would be ashamed at times when I do not.

How I miss my father!

He boxed in the ring like a ballerina in "The Hall".

And the fire in his eyes was caught in motion, yet is not captured in the photograph.

Now I swim and look and love like him, my thoughts strong and feelings flowing freely with strength; swimming, with my life splashing and crashing, like the water in the pool.

He would have grown to admire who I've become; thoughts, beliefs, strokes, swimming my life away.

David Osborne

David Osborne, aged 15, receives the Poetry Society Young Poetry Pack.

Submitted by Lucy Hickes of The Aveley School, Aveley, Essex, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes.

Please send students' poems to 'The TES', Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Sian Hughes was a winner in the TLSPoems on the Underground competition in 1996, since when her poems have appeared in 'The North', 'Writing Women' and 'London Magazine'. A short collection, 'Saltpetre', was published by SmithDoorstop Books in May.

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