Poem ‘Little Anne’

Ruins of York Castle / Clifford's Tower. Franç...
Ruins of York Castle / Clifford's Tower. Français : Ruines du château d'York. Tour de Clifford. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Little Anne

How could it have a name,
this skeleton dug up in York?
I asked myself many times,
sitting there transfixed by the image –
a face with no flesh

in the open newspaper on the floor.
In the background
the Righteous Brothers sang,
requiem voices reverberating.
A lone, leaden bass

dripping in a sad, grey pool.
I stared at those empty sockets
as if I had known her,
unsure if I was mortal, too.
On the black and white T.V.

they were burying Churchill.
From the kitchen mother’s
caveats decried the great man,
how she’d marched into
the polling booth back

in forty five dressed all in red!
But when I asked her what
a Jewess was, she wouldn’t say.
All I wanted to know was how
Anne had ended up like this,

disturbed in her rest
while Churchill went to his.

poem © copyright df barker 2012

*first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon

* PLEASE ALSO SEE http://mikemalonemysteries.wordpress.com/

47 thoughts on “Poem ‘Little Anne’

  1. Hi David

    Mysterious, this poem…

    It leaves me with many questions, like who was this Anne?

    I once wan a jigzaw puzzle in Portsmouth with the funeral of Winston Churchill on it and when I see tags saying massacre, jews and Anne, esp. in this time of year, I think of Anne Frank. But who was this girl in York…

    Then again, for appreciating the poem, it doesn’t make a difference if I know or not, as it is the way you wrote this intruiging story ( with the simultanious events, the burial of the important Churchill and the find of this little Anne) itself that makes it a wonderful read 🙂


  2. Hi Ina, thank you! Well, the idea for this comes from an actual memory in January 1965 at the time of Winston Churchill’s death and funeral. Around the same time, there was this feature in a newspaper (I was around 6!) about skeletons found in York, dating back to the pogrom/massacre of jews carried out there at York castle. After this, all the jews in England were exiled and weren’t allowed back until Oliver Cromwell let them in. At that age, I was only just coming to terms with the idea of my own mortality and seeing this skull/skeleton had a profound effect on me, as did the funeral… and the music of the time.


  3. 🙂 Thank you for explaining who she was. Horrible events in history! The poem is a wonderful reflection of that confusing time when you find out you will eventually not be anymore!


  4. Very interesting and indeed mysterious. Quite the atmosphere. I enjoyed reading the comments and your expansion of this piece, and “where it came from”. Love it, and I learned a bit about a history I’ve never even heard of. Very cool. Love the picture.


  5. Haunting, stark, and thought-provoking come to mind. Interestinly, I just completed a series of lectures by a very learned history professor about the history of Jewish persecutions and pogroms. It’s funny how things align themselves sometimes.


  6. Beautiful and quite intriguing story..and although the sad horror event dominates what got me thinking after I read your reply to Ina was how deeply events effect a kid..and we know that but keep forgetting…..


  7. there shouldn’t be a difference but there is…i like your thoughts here…even more after reading in the reply that you were only six when you heard about this..the brain of kids have a simple and good logic in my opinion…sometimes i wish we could save a bit more of this into our grown up life


  8. Movng poem. Old human remains are fascinating.

    A mass grave in Florida was found a few years back and I have thought of it ever since. They’re called the ‘Windover bog mummies.” About 170 or so mummies were found by construction workers Because of the pH conditions of the soil, even the soft tissues of the brain were preserved. They turned out to be over 7,000 years old.

    The DNA was European.


  9. Thank you so much Susan! What a fascinating find that was, I’ve never heard of it but… European? That’s intriguing.


  10. Oh my, my, my! What a childhood memory. I needed to read your responses to be sure who you intended, but I got the point right from the start. I immediately flashed to Anne Frank, who at least gives me a face to connect with. I love the backdrop of your memory–Righteous Brothers, open newspaper on the floor…and my mother wouldn’t have answered the question either! I never understood why some things just couldn’t be spoken–my imagination always ended up being far more frightening than anything she could have told me in truth! I really “feel” this piece. Debra


  11. I loved reading this poem, David. You have a wonderful way with your poetry that surprises the reader – and I love to be surprised within your lines. Great write!


  12. Beautifully written and mysterious, as others have said, David, and I also appreciate your clarification to Ina of the history behind your words and the fact that you were only 6, makes it even that more interesting~


  13. Yes, thank you so much Lauren. It’s easy to forget that persecution in all its form has been with us since… well, humanity began! 😦


  14. This is a really fascinating poem David.

    I love how you combine two different themes which both appear as having equal standing. I’m not sure i could ever do this. When I try my poems start meandering all over the place until they finally get completely lost and end their journey in any handy bin!! 🙂



  15. Hi David,
    Haunting , beautiful and Bittersweet poem.
    Even though this little girl was found in York, my thoughts skipped straight away to Anne Frank too. Of course Anne Frank was just one of the many millions of those who died during WW2 in and outside the camps besides all those other people from different nations .Your last lines are very respectfully and well chosen.
    Ciao, Francina


  16. You are very kind Christine, thank you so much! Keep trying, that’s all I can say Christine, but then, if you feel you can’t ‘combine’ themes, perhaps your gifts lie elsewhere in other forms of poetry. You might be surprised! 🙂


  17. Thank you Francina, you are very kind. You are so correct about Anne Frank, that awful personal tragedy amidst a huge one and what I was trying to do was show that persecution has been going on a long, long time.


  18. I love poems that weave impressions with fact/history. They create a magical play between both worlds. I especially like the line: “I stared at those empty sockets as if I had known her,” You looking at her…she looking back at you . . . or not. Powerful. Kudos!


  19. Fascinating poem, David – putting together the burial of Churchill and the exhumation of Anne… the way you must have wondered as a young boy, putting the two together. (I remember when Churchill died – I was a senior in high school and we talked about him in our “contemporary affairs” class….)


  20. Yes, thank you so much Betty! I was nearly six and it was a very sombre but vivid time, the music and events of the time playing against this historical backcloth.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.