Martin O'Neill

Rookie - 15 Points (20-06-1958 / Solihull, Birmingham, England)

What Price Literacy? - Poem by Martin O'Neill

An extraordinary time you have waited
Quiet, in no kind of rush
You must be pleased now that it's over
Your time in the African bush

The grass stalks that rippled around you
The animals passing you by
The fierce yellow sun beating down
From the blue of your African sky.

When you finally burst into flower,
In blossoms of yellow and red
The eight year old girl who unearthed you
Couldn't read the notice that said

Achtung! Minen!

Poet's Notes about The Poem

As an ex-Sapper (HM Royal Engineers) I have a lot of experience of land mines and the devastation they cause, particularly in the old and new war zones of Africa. This is an observation on that legacy.

Comments about What Price Literacy? by Martin O'Neill

  • Rajnish Manga (12/14/2014 12:40:00 PM)

    Congratulations, Martin, your poem is Today's Special. The poem is impressive mainly because of its emotional content and appeal. Thanks for your notes about the poem. (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Kim Barney (12/14/2014 12:03:00 PM)

    Fabulous poem, Martin.
    Also, congratulations for having it chosen as poem of the day on December 14 for three years in a row now!
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/14/2014 9:52:00 AM)

    A thought provoking poem and it is nice. (Report) Reply

  • (12/14/2014 9:51:00 AM)

    A thought provoking poem and it is nice. (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (12/14/2014 12:12:00 AM)

    Treasure is its simple and lucid expression. The poem penetrate direst to the reader's heart. Small but unique. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Geetha Jayakumar (12/14/2013 9:14:00 PM)

    Powerful and thought provoking poem. The last line is really sad. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • (12/14/2013 1:52:00 AM)

    spinechilling, martin (Report) Reply

  • (12/16/2012 1:44:00 PM)

    Totally well done Martin! Brilliant......Ruthie (Report) Reply

  • (12/14/2012 10:35:00 AM)

    Totally moving.... left me speechless for a bit. (Report) Reply

  • Valerie Dohren (12/14/2012 8:38:00 AM)

    A legacy of war, more than sad, dreadful beyond words. Very well written. (Report) Reply

  • Lyn Paul (12/14/2012 6:37:00 AM)

    Yes sad ending, but the poem is really beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • Gajanan Mishra (12/14/2012 3:48:00 AM)

    An extra ordinary time you have awaited. good start. thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Kelvin Owusu (12/14/2012 1:00:00 AM)

    didn't really understand this piece but it is a good read nicely written (Report) Reply

  • Okoye Charles Chukwudi (6/18/2012 3:56:00 PM)

    I do not get the sounds good and deep...but i cnt still grasp it...pls inbox me with the clue (Report) Reply

  • Diane Hine (5/13/2012 6:21:00 AM)

    Personifying the mine makes it seem even more cruel, if that's possible. Very moving. (Report) Reply

  • Sue S. (4/8/2012 7:47:00 AM)

    I gasped out loud in horror at the last line. I didn't see that coming - but then I guess that was the point. An excellent poem. (Report) Reply

  • Wahab Abdul (3/19/2012 10:39:00 AM)


  • (2/11/2012 7:33:00 AM)

    Yes a great poem. A powerful, a shocking poem. I believe I've read this before. (Report) Reply

  • Elena Sandu (2/7/2012 7:45:00 PM)

    One of the most painful peace manifests I have ever read. You surely know how to manipulate a soul needs, rivers of tears are not enough to wash the sadness brought by dormant mines, what is the use of literacy if we cannot protect the child? Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • (3/16/2010 9:12:00 AM)

    A fine poem with a big impact. (Report) Reply

Read all 23 comments »

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Poem Submitted: Friday, August 1, 2008

Poem Edited: Friday, December 14, 2012

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