I am young, fresh and tender. I am succulently, greenly beautiful.

Ah, but so, once, was I.

You? You are old. Dry and brittle. You are past your prime. I, I am sought after. People seek me out, they play on me, delicately taste me. They like to hold me between two thumbs, blow on me until I vibrate like a spider’s web in the wind and hear me squeal with pleasure. What use have they for you?

I am the rustling couch which is the receiver of sighs and whispers. I am the receptacle of secrets. I am the wistful melancholy of summer sadness mingled with the promise of mellow autumn.

Then I am the reality of summer happiness. It is I that sees the anticipation of spring become the green of cricket pitches, bowling greens and parks. I am the one that cools hot feet and fills the air with sweet scents. I am the daisy-speckled one that gathers the people together.

I do not deny you your attractions; would you deny me mine? If you will but look, you will see that I too am adorned – by the cornflower and wild scarlet poppy. Beware arrogance, young blade; age reaches us all.

Not I. I am needed as provender for the animals. Why even the domestic cat comes to me for medication.

And what am I if not fodder for those same beasts during winter when you have shrivelled and died or lie hidden and shivering beneath winter’s chill? Should I envy you then, when I am warm in the barn?

Tell me, do artists draw you, old one? Do they sit for hour upon hour pondering over your shades, textures and shape, as indeed I am pondered over?

Were it true that no artist finds in me what is found in you – and it is not – that boast would still cause me no pain for I am more than a mere passive subject. I help to create nests and hides – living art. Not only do I provide the material for the country mouse’s nest but am the very foundation of her home. I am sanctuary also for snipe, quail and partridge. What could find protection in you?

Look to my roots and you will see. I harbour a score and more of insects. I, too, am a protector.

You will see, then, that there is no need for arrogance or pride; that we both have a place and serve a purpose?

Yes. Yes, I understand that now.

Julia Wassall. Written as a GCE ‘O’ Level English homework in 1977, rediscovered 42 years later!


    1. Thanks for your kind comments Mary and Chris. I’ve passed them on to Julia and I’m encouraging her to let me post one or two more pieces of her work. She’s found quite a lot in her old ‘O’ level folder that are easily as good as anything of mine I’ve posted here. Different of course but I think more spontaneous than my more self-conscious exercises.

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