Treasure Island

Alison Cassidy

(6th August,1945 / Melbourne, Australia)

Constance Wood - Headmistress


How she charmed and terrified me!
I can still see her
(fifty years on)
winging her way
across the quadrangle-
black gown flapping,
small laced feet
pecking the gravel.

I used to imitate her
in my senior years.
(I wonder if she knew?)
I loved the titillation
of risking detention
in the pursuit of peer approval.

Miss Wood was quite an actress herself.
Each Monday morning she took
centre stage at assembly.
Diminutive and domineering
(Queen Victoria minus the veil)
she would issue her orders for the week,
before leading us in
her favorite hymn
'Morning Has Broken'

I was about twelve
when she took us for Latin -
and for the first time
I met the teacher behind the gown.
She was magnificent -
a brilliant educator
with a passion for her subject
and a devotion to her students.
(Such a generous marker too!)

I heard she died last year.
She had just turned 104!
She must have spent
the last forty years of her life
without her girls.

How terribly sad.

Submitted: Monday, January 26, 2009
Edited: Saturday, September 26, 2009

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Comments about this poem (Constance Wood - Headmistress by Alison Cassidy )

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  • Diana Van Den Berg (2/26/2009 10:43:00 AM)

    Alison, before reading a poem of yours, I always make sure that I am comfortable and not likely to be disturbed - so that I can enjoy properly what I know is going to be a treat before I have even opened up the poem.

    I loved this! And all the comments too, especially Tony Jolley's. For me it was Maggie Martin! She was a wonderful principal and we all loved her - but respected her far too much to dare to anything too wrong. In her last year (which was my last year at school too) , some of my friends thought she was sometimes a little crabby, but I don't remember thinking so myself. Thank you for letting me into your childhood and inspiring me to reminisce about mine. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Wells (2/9/2009 2:39:00 PM)

    Dear Ali... not just a moving tribute but a wonderful glimpse into one of your personal memories. Wonderfully moving, true life. Thanks for sharing it with us. (Report) Reply

  • Karin Anderson (sorry can't vote or comment) . (2/9/2009 5:21:00 AM)

    I can just see this dedicated and woman doing her duty in her strict and formidable way. Was she a Miss? Your poem is a portrait of this proud and dignified teacher, full of passion to make her girls into all her aspirations. Wonderful descriptive work. Karin Anderson (Report) Reply

  • Sandra Fowler (2/3/2009 2:19:00 PM)

    I believe Miss Woods would give you high marks for this warm word
    portrait. The deep affection and respect that you still feel for her
    is brought forth in your poignant last lines. If only she could have known...
    Beautiful, Alison.

    Love,

    SandraX (Report) Reply

  • Nimal Dunuhinga (2/2/2009 11:09:00 AM)

    A great tribute to a superior from a compassionate heart..........and it's really praiseworthy! (Report) Reply

  • Ridge Cahill (1/29/2009 10:28:00 AM)

    A powerful and lovely tribute to someone who now can be admired by those of us who have never met her. That in of itself says a great deal about her – to be memorialized in a poem by one of the best poets out there. Bravo my dear Allie, bravo. (Report) Reply

  • Ency Bearis (1/28/2009 3:38:00 AM)

    A wonderful tribute to the Headmistress..the teacher had given knowledge and values for along time...lovely write...10 (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Blakemore (1/26/2009 5:05:00 PM)

    A most wonderful poem Alison. It sounds that Constance Wood had a very happy life and inspired many young people. This is a lovely tribute to her. Very well done. Love, Andrew xx (Report) Reply

  • Catrina Heart (1/26/2009 3:59:00 PM)

    A beautiful tribute to the headmistress. True, most of them are domineering people, making our wings healthy and strong with the knowledge, values and wisdom imparted by the institution....10 (Report) Reply

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