April 1, 2011

21 Days/ 21 Poems: Childhood


And here's Catherine
at sixteen months
barely above ground
and yet
so sky-inclined
Daddy, hustling, must yield
to her insistent ‘Bird! Bird!’
or ‘Plane!’or
‘Moon!’ her innocence
object and word.

She grows fast
like us to hustle time
to lose
her skywardness.

"Instamatic," by Edward Baugh. A Tale From the Rainforest, Sandberry Press, Kingston, Jamaica, 1988.

When I first read “Instamatic” in The Daily Gleaner (I had a clipped copy until a few years ago), I was awed by the simplicity and power of the lyric. In a few lines, Baugh captures the innocence of the child, “Daddy, hustling, must yield/ to her insistent ‘Bird! Bird!’/ or ‘Plane!’ and the love of the father, “her innocence/sanctifies/ object and word.” There is also a careful balancing of the words “hustle,” “sky-inclined,” and “skywardness” and the playful use of long and short vowels to contrast the point of view of the father and the child.

“Instamatic” was one of those poems that I kept in memory during the formative years of my children, and it made me appreciate even more their sheer delight and wonder of the world.

Photo: Book Industry Association of Jamaica

Edward Alston Cecil Baugh (born 10 January 1936) is a Jamaican poet and scholar, recognised as an authority on the work of Derek Walcott.

He was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, and began writing poetry at Titchfield High School. He won a scholarship to study English literature at the University College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, and later did his postgraduate studies at Queen's University in Ontario and the University of Manchester, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1964. He taught at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies from 1965 to 1967, then at the university's Mona campus from 1968 to 2001, eventually being appointed professor of English in 1978 and public orator in 1985.

Source: Wikipedia


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