Nesbit Likes: For a Five-Year-Old by Fleur Adcock

One could argue that some of the best poetry is the best because it’s the most accessible. Of course, everyone has their own tastes, but to appeal to the millions in an art form as unique as poetry, an art form that doesn’t really have any rules, takes immense talent. Heaney and Frost as perfect examples as their poetry speaks on a global level. Introduce anyone to their writing and it’ll be understood, it’ll be relatable. They’re clear, concise and communicative, honest and powerful.

Adcock is similar in that her work, too, can appeal to anyone. She’s able to pick you up and draw you straight in with her poetry and leave you with a lingering afterthought that lasts. She writes very much on a personal level but the ideology and themes she details are vastly applicable to the every day reader.

For a Five-Year-Old is one of my favourite pieces of hers. Reading the poem, you can see it begins with the light; the innocence of a child, the gentle interaction with the snail and the sweet lessons to take care of it. The light starts to fade as the poem progresses and we’re left at the end with a unsettling perspective. Of course, there’s the aspect of dark humour, and it’s a brilliant combination. This is a great example of her work that anyone could understand and a brilliant example of her talented capabilities.

For those new to Adcock, I implore you to explore her work – nothing fails to leave you thinking, and often, smiling.

— — —

For a Five-Year-Old

A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
it might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful hand,
to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
your closest relatives and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another,
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
And we are kind to snails.


11 thoughts on “Nesbit Likes: For a Five-Year-Old by Fleur Adcock

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