Canada: Case History: 1945

Original Text: 

Earle Birney, Ghost in the Wheels: Selected Poems (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977): 40.

1This is the case of a high-school land,
2deadset in adolescence;
4bright cheeks, the gangling presence.
5This boy is wonderful at sports
6and physically quite healthy;
7he's taken to church on Sunday still
9He doesn't like books, except about bears,
10collects new coins and model planes,
11and never refuses a dare.
13yet shouts him down when he talks at table.
15though he's not so witty and no more stable.
17if you say so he'll pull a great face.
18He wants to be different from everyone else
19and daydreams of winning the global race.
22schizophrenia not excluded,
23will he learn to grow up before it's too late?

Notes

3] treble: soprano, shrill. Back to Line
8] prurience: sexual interests. Back to Line
12] Uncle: Uncle Sam, the United States. Back to Line
14] French mother: France. Quebecois, a dialect of French, is one of two official languages in Canada. Back to Line
16] his father: England. Back to Line
20] Parents unmarried: England and France. Back to Line
21] E.g., the Uncle. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2009
Rhyme: 
Special Copyright: 

© the Estate of Earle Birney. This poem is protected by Canadian copyright law. RPO is grateful to Madam Justice Wailan Low, the executor of Earle Birney's literary estate, for permission to publish. Anyone wishing to reprint this poem must seek permission in advance from the Birney estate.