BYGONE DAYS by Les Rendell

Life wanders on, year in, year out, apace
As melancholy haunts the backward gaze;
But memory holds alive those years of grace
Of Cornish childhood, golden bygone days.

Remember school, with pinafore and cap,
The hoops we trundled playfully ahead,
The dung-strewn streets, the donkey in his trap,
And Mother’s saffron cake and home-made bread.

Remember Father’s stern but kindly eye;
The “Morning News” each evening as he read;
The blackened range with chestnuts roasting nigh
And long-forked toast to send us off to bed.

The low, cold attic warmed by Mother’s smile,
As bedclothes tucked round chilling flesh and bone,
Searching feet locate the heated brick, while
Father’s story ends with candles softly blown.

Remember, too, the copper and the steam
Each Monday as the washday work is done;
The mangled sheets; shirts white and blued to seem
As if a bright new world had just begun.

The penny switchback at the Easter Fair;
The treats from Sundayschool we call to mind;
The brass band playing proudly in the square
With Father’s drum a-throb, a scat behind.

Or standing at the foot of Richmond Hill
As white plumed engines steamed and whistles blew
‘Cross Hendra’s arching viaduct until
Great Western coaches were lost to boyhood view.

Clemo’s carriage in Victoria Square,
The well-dressed ladies waiting by its side
While Mallet’s window stocked for us to stare
At diverse gadgetry displayed with pride.

Up Pydar Street and down, between the leats,
Matchstick races; childlike waterbased events;
Boots sparking over timeless cobbled streets
Beneath the spire’s cathedral eminence.

And Lemon street, so grand and wide ‘twould seem,
Surveyed in silence by a paradox;
As Lander’s Doric column stands supreme
The little Christian from “The Fighting Cocks”.

These memories flood my thoughts as clear as day
As cherished childhood moments cheer my mind;
But yesterday’s a jangled disarray
As age plays tricks to make the present blind.

Remember, then, with pride and love and joy
The city centr’d in our youthful years
And Cornwall’s gift of childhood, chiel and boy;
Such memories as are not yet blurred by tears.