Cicely Fox Smith

(1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954 / Lymm, Cheshire)

Places - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Some people collect
Stamps and old masters,
Queen Anne pepper-casters
Pistols and kreeses,
And orchids, all blotchy and flecked
Like diseases,
And China and Chippendale chairs,
And stuffed heads of bison and bears,
And fiddles
And butterflies stuck through their middles,
And Lord knows what
Rot . . . .
And others, of course, collect
Money . . .

But it’s funny
I don’t
Collect even plain
It won’t
Stick to me,
And I don’t expect
Ever it will;
So let those that can have their fill
Collecting things - I collect
Places . . .

You don’t need glass cases
To keep them in,
Nor museums and strong rooms to heap them in;
You don’t have to be for ever worrying about
Whether the rot’s rotting them or the damp’s rusting them;
You don’t have to pay anyone for hurrying about
Dusting them;
You don’t have to be always finding a fly in the ointment
The way these collecting blokes do,
And eating your insides out with rage and disappointment
Because someone else has got a bigger and better one than you . . .

Yes, even if you can’t spend them
Or lend them,
It’s rather a jolly sort of a notion
That you’ve got
The Atlantic and the Pacific and the Indian Ocean
And the Rockies and the Andes,
And Ascension and Trinidad and Juan Fernandez,
And the veld and the pampas and the prairie,
And the Sahara and the Kalahari,
The heights and the deeps . . .
And no matter how old you may get,
Or how hungry and cold you may get,
Or whether your coat’s full of holes
And your boots haven’t got any soles,
They’re your own, all the lot
And for keeps . . . .

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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