Child Of Spring

Hey everyone. This poem is a tribute to my maternal grandmother Jessie MacDonald Robertson Russell. The woman who shaped my beliefs and values and the principals by which I live my life more than anyone else before or since. This was the woman who taught me the things I didn’t get taught in school like Scottish and Irish history and the important of poetry and music in our cultures. This was the woman who taught me of real revolutionaries people who wanted to change the world rather than just tinker with it. A remarkable woman with a remarkable story to tell. This poem has been a long time coming but I hope it’s been worth the effort I have called it Child Of Spring, I hope you enjoy the read

Child Of Spring ( In Loving Memory Of My Maternal Grandmother Jessie MacDonald Robertson Russell 01-04-1891 to -06-01-1982)

A child of the late Victorian years
she saw her husband to go war
when her first born son was six months old
the war between two sets of cousins
was the war to end all wars we were told
dirt and deception used to deceive her
two sides dug themselves their trenches
fighting for fools gold
the illusion of a better tomorrow
the tomorrow that never arrived
she survived both the war and the hungry years
where the far right fed on the fears of those prepared to listen
there were plenty of them in a Britain more divided than united
as large parts of the shire counties
marched with Mosley
whilst she marched with the left to keep the Clyde the deepest shade of red
She brought up five children
the last of which was my mum
born in 1931
seventeen years after her first
by now she was 40 no longer young
or not considered to be in those days
when ideas were more set than now
this was something she never liked
a great believer in the rights of all she was old before I was born
not long in to her 70th year
she told me speak up and show no fear
don’t let a pack of wolves sense vulnerability’s scent
don’t be content with what others want to give you
It will never be enough to satisfy
It was she who taught me of Rosa Parkes the women who boycotted the Alabama bus
Martin Luther King the peaceful fighter who was one of us
of patriots and heroes like
James Connolly her friend John MacLean and Jimmy Reid
she hated seeing people in need and the rich in their palaces and mansions
she was a great believer in second chances
but not in third
that would be absurd
a licence to take advantage
of a good heart
and she knew what a good heart was
it was something with which she was blessed
a radical of the socialist left
she would have stood shoulder to shoulder
with women for independence
when destiny calls you must always say yes
loud and proud and for the right reasons
a child of spring her death came in the coldest of seasons
when her 90 year old body could take more
she knew her time had come
to join Tam the man I had never known
but she claimed I had his spirit
and he would have been proud of me
on that frosty winter’s morning
set free from pain
the phoenix ascended to take Jessie home
I was honoured to know her
and proud to call her gran.

@ Gayle Smith 2014


One Reply to “Child Of Spring”

  1. 1891. Your gran sounds a remarkable woman. You are fortunate you learned so much from her. I loved this poem you described and set the scene well. I saw it all in my mind as i was reading. I loved it. XxX

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