The teacher took my tennis ball…


Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?

Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn’t got a penny,
And who weren’t paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in–
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn? (Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc)


I had a little beetle
So that beetle was his name
And I called him Alexander
And he answered just the same
And I put him in a matchbox
And I kept him all the day
But nanny let my beetle out
Yes nanny let my beetle out
She went and let my beetle out
And beetle ran away…. (part of A.A. Milne’s poem, Forgiven)

The Teacher Took my Tennis Ball

The teacher took my tennis ball

She took it for the day

Just because it broke some glass

She said I couldn’t play… (part of The Teacher Took my Tennis Ball by Libby Hathorn)

Each of these poems, and many others, hold a special place in my life. The first one , Tarantella, echoes the rhythmic introductions of a special teacher in Grade 3 (Thanks, Mr Simmons). Other memorable poems performed by this teacher included A.B. Paterson’s, the Man from Ironbark, and of course, the Man from Snowy River – I can always remember the gasp from the class when “Murder! Bloody Murder!” was pronounced.

Later as a parent, I wanted to show my children the best of the old and the new – poetry I enjoyed from my parents’ introductions and the new from authors of the day. Thus, poetry memories for my children include those of A.A. Milne and Libby Hathorn (with quirky poems like the Teacher Took My Tennis Ball).

My thoughts on poetry were revived again by the launch of a new poetry collection at a recent CBCA conference held in Sydney. Libby Hathorn was there to promote her poetry anthology, The ABC Book of Australian Poetry. To quote Libby:

I have been concerned that works of certain classic Australian poets may be slipping out of sight, while the fine works of poets of our time may never be heard or read by young people. This anthology gave me the opportunity to invigorate classic works and highlight contemporary Australian voices, using the metaphor of the river of life for each section and reflecting so aptly on the phases of our history.

As I reflect on the poetry I was introduced to early in my schooling (primary school years), I too desire that today’s youth is exposed to both classics from the past, and new and upcoming poets. Indeed to be inspired to become poets themselves. As a start, students could look at Libby’s Poetry Parade  to submit their own poems. Those already writing their own poems should, as other writers do, read widely, to discover their own interests and style of writing while experiencing a varied and diverse taste of poetric styles. Indeed, a reading through the ABC Book of Australian Poetry reveals the different styles of poetry around us – writing to inspire us, as we look back in fondness to poets of Australia’s past, and forward to those of the future.

abcbookofaustralianpoetryRhythm or rhyme?

What’s your style?

What does it take

To make you smile…?

(Or frown).

What gets you down?

Or makes you think?


Whatever it is –

Just take note now

To have it there for all to see.


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