A Hope For Poetry: Remembering The Sixties by Barry Tebb

There was a hope for poetry in the sixties

And for education and society, teachers free

To do as they wanted: I could and did teach

Poetry and art all day and little else -

That was my way.



I threw rainbows against the classroom walls,

Gold and silver dragons in the corridors and

Halls; the children’s eyes were full of stars;

I taught the alphabet in Greek and spoke of

Peace and war in Vietnam, of birth and sex and

Death and immortality - the essences of lyric poetry;

Richards and Ogden on ‘The Meaning of Meaning’,

Schopenhauer on sadness, Nietzsche and Lawrence on

Civilisation and Plato on the Theory of Forms;

I read aloud ‘The Rainbow’ and the children drew

The waterfall with Gudrun bathing, I showed

Them Gauguin and Fra Angelico in gold and a film

On painting from life, and the nude girls

Bothered no-one.



It was the Sixties -

Art was life and life was art and in the

Staff-room we talked of poetry and politics

And passionately I argued with John. a clinical

Psychologist, on Freud and Jung; Anne, at forty

One, wanted to be sterilised and amazingly asked

My advice but that was how it was then: Dianne

Went off to join weekly rep at Brighton, Dave

Clark had given up law to teach a ‘D’ stream in the

Inner city. I was more lucky and had the brightest

Children - Sheila Pritchard my genius child-poet with

Her roguish eye and high bright voice, drawing skulls

In Avernus and burning white chrysanthemums, teasing me

With her long legs and gold salmon-flecked eyes.



It was a surprise when I made it into Penguin Books;

Michael Horovitz busy then as now and madly idealistic

As me; getting ready for the Albert Hall jamboree,

The rainbow bomb of peace and poetry.

by Barry Tebb

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