Childhood is me

                   Childhood is me.

I can only grow out of it,

         branch through it,

perhaps grow round about it.

But keep it as the heartwood

                   of my tree.


Like a bus pass or a donor card,

        you never know how soon it

                    may be needed.

Keep it in your left hand ticket pocket,

                     cocoon it,

                   feed it.


You need the giggle-trigger, after all,

        to cope with sex or politicians,

                      the didactic bore.

                      How could a world

containing camels, centipedes, seahorses

                      not have a childlike



Where foolish fear to tread, childhood

                                       is there –

joy, like the primal sunrise of the earth,

        harm, a black hell’s despair;

expecting sense, goodwill of all the world,

        not the coiled spring of evil



Can childhood me with vulnerable shell,

        survive through life,

                     work well?

In letting joy and hurt of it press hard,

                   is there still

                   some reward?


The talent for such hurt has payment given,

                      rich but priceless.

In childhood every art’s the art of living;

                   each day a kind of play

                      where you may find,

through few and tiny doors of wonderland

                      glimpses of heaven




© Adrian Campbell,1998