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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Number 191: Another Charles Causley "Timothy Winters"

Timothy Winters

Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.

His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.

When teacher talks he won't hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the patterns off his plate
And he's not even heard of the Welfare State.

Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kitchen floor
And they say there aren't boys like him any more.

Old man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier.
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy's dosed with an aspirin.

The Welfare Worker lies awake
But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.

At Morning Prayers the Master helves
For children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars "Amen!"

So come one angel, come on ten:
Timothy Winters says "Amen
Amen amen amen amen."
Timothy Winters, Lord.

Hap Notes: I had such a hard time figuring out which Causley poems to use that I just had to make him a two day event. This poem wrings the heart and Causley reading it will add fuel to the fire. Here he is:

I love how Causley shows us what kind of student Timothy is with the phrase "shoots down dead the arithmetic bird." Each of Causley's descriptive phrases seem so effortless, the rhyme and rhythm so appealing, we forget how brilliantly worded and phrased this poem actually is. Licking "the pattern off the plate" says so much more than just the child is hungry.

The world is full of hungry children and children who are now adults who grew up in poverty and yet, we often find them to be the most generous of heart and spirit and if they are not, who can blame them?

When I was poorer than I am now (and that's saying something) I worked at a small shop which let me use my small electric coffee pot to make my breakfast. There were some homeless people who lived close to the shop, on the street, and once in a while I'd buy a loaf of bread or a bag of day-old donuts and they'd come in and share a meager breakfast with me. I was not on welfare, I was living through the generosity of friends for a place to stay and my small salary. The homeless folks often went to the food shelves just to eat. I'll never forget the day they were given bags of out-dated candy and ran into the shop with them, pouring them out on the counter with delight because they knew I loved candy. They just gave it to me – they had NOTHING and when they got the opportunity to share, they did. I confess I wept openly at this largesse of spirit. Somebody had gotten a brick of "government" cheese and I bought a loaf of bread and we had cheese sandwiches, out-dated candy and coffee. It was one of the best meals of my life.

Am I wrong in thinking that all of us are sick to death of politicians and corporations who seem to be working for their own ends? I think most people have a generosity of spirit that remains untapped because it serves politicians and corporations well to instill fear in us; fear of poverty, fear of other people, fear we will not fit in. Here's a "novel" concept; what if we all worked for the good of all people? What if our elected officials and corporations worked for the public good? Would the world fall apart? Would we then not buy things and want things? Of course not.

I say "novel" concept because it's not a new idea in any way. All of the major religions of the world profess this. I got the idea from Jesus, Mohamed, Krishna, Buddha et al. Oh, yeah, and Immanuel Kant and most of the great philosophers also agree with the idea of the "catagorical imperative" a sort of heady "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

How did the jerks end up running the world? There are more of us than there are of them. Let's cuddle them to death. Let's let the milk of human kindness drown them. Let's tickle them until they give up in giggles. We could do it if we wanted. They aren't really jerks, you know, they are the Timothy Winters of the spirit: rich with cash while their soul (or whatever you want to call it) languishes in poverty.

If Timothy Winters (whom Causley said was based on a real boy) heartily hopes for the ease of those less fortunate than himself, then I'll bet you do too.

Let's not blame anybody for this. It's time consuming and pointless. It's not about punishing the greedy, it's about helping out our neighbors. Start out small, smile at everybody today and pretend they are your dearest pal. It's easy. You may be doing this already. If you are, thank you. This is why the world has hope.

We talked about Causley yesterday:

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