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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)

TITLE: The Pankhurst Boy
By Melanie Kerr


A child of ten
And but a lad
Deep down inside
I wasn’t bad

The Law sowed seeds
Of poverty
Into the lives
Of boys like me

Forced to steal
I snatched some bread
The felon’s path
Impelled to tread

Pursued and caught
I had my trial
I faced my judge
His face hostile

To Pankhurst Prison
I was sent
Days and nights
In sorrow spent

Lice and fleas
Bestowed on some
A foul disease

Australia was
A virgin land
Were in demand

A Pankhurst boy
Could meet the need
And from my prison
I was freed

“Apprentice” was
What I was called
On to a ship
They had me hauled

My tears unchecked
My cries ignored
So swiftly was I
Stashed on board

I sat in chains
In stinking hold
A new life would
For me unfold

Two hundred days
Of endless sea
Towards an unknown

And all the while
Such tales were told
Of wondrous beasts
I would behold

That hopped so high
Birds than ran
But couldn’t fly

Ghosts that roamed
The desert land
When stopped, upon
One leg they’d stand

I hovered ‘twixt
Despair and hope
Did I possess
The means to cope?

A brand new start
Where I could be
The person that
Was truly me?

I dropped my head
And closed my eyes
And prayed to God
Who e’er supplies

I heard His voice
So soft, so mild
Imagined that
On me he smiled

“Be my son
And take my hand
Together we’ll
Explore this land.”

Author’s note: Parkhurst Prison is situated on the Isle of Wight. In 1805 it became a prison for boys awaiting deportation, mainly to Australia.

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This article has been read 1277 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 01/22/09
Very good poem—an economy of words that told a complete story and left the door open to more.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/24/09
An excellent story told in few words. Well done.
Joanne Sher 01/26/09
Just excellent. The cadence was just right. Wonderful
Karlene Jacobsen01/26/09
I like this story told within a poem. I found it easy to follow.
Esther Gellert01/26/09
I must confess... I sometimes struggle to read poetry but I loved this. It was easy to read and an interesting take on one of the many tragic pieces of Australian history.
Joshua Janoski01/27/09
Very well written poem. I was not aware of this piece of history.

I'd say that this is one of my favorites this week. It was crafted well and told a unique story.
LauraLee Shaw01/28/09
Masterful and a wonderful approach to the topic. Love it.
Jan Ackerson 01/28/09
Excellent! The voice is just right, and the story captivatingly told.
Joy Faire Stewart01/28/09
Excellent choice of words painting a very sad time in history. I love the last stanza of hope.
Eliza Evans 01/29/09
Love the format you chose for this poem. Perfect!
Really enjoyed this one. Well done! :)
Myrna Noyes01/29/09
CONGRATULATIONS on your EC win for this wonderful story-poem!! You deserve it!! :) I was hoping someone would write on this part of Australia's history, and you did it so excellently!!!! The whole piece flowed so well!
Anne Linington03/08/09
Loved the poem Melanie, the way uou told the story of this lad's unfortunate beginnings, his move to the other side of the world and his new start with God. A couple of small corrections- it is Parkhurst, not Pankhurst (as in Emeline and the suffragettes). Initially I thought it was a fictional place, till I was sure you meant Parkhurst. I live on the Isle of Wight, about twelve miles from this prison which still exists for high security prisoners. Tennyson and J B Priestly also lived here and Queen Victoria died here at Osborne House. Lots of literary and historical connections. Anne
Anne Linington03/08/09
PS my Australia entry didn't fair well "Two little boys" but I enjoyed putting the family history in context.