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A Schoolboy’s Memory of Elizabeth the Queen

I saw her stroll before my eyes,
A royal monarch establishing ties,
Parading at Sabina Park.
The glamorous scene was far from stark.
A royal monarch from afar,
Her royal consort like some tsar,
Waving their hands in jubilee,
Children responding in joyful glee.
Jamaica, once jewel of the British Crown,
Parading her monarch up and down.
The year was nineteen fifty three,
The Caribbean island not yet free
From ancient British monarchy.
And I, a schoolboy at that time,
At eighteen years still in my prime,
Saw women curtsy and men bow,
While children watched them to and fro.
My father, a policeman with some rank,
In starched white uniform, quite swank,
His bayonet and sword in shield,
Their symbol not at all concealed.
Security provided with great pride,
His skill at this most fully applied.
A superintendent with much class,
His uniform shining with polished brass.
Though years have past the view is clear,
As if the scenery was still quite near.
Echoing in my mind this very day,
Is pomp and ceremony in display,
With children singing a local song,
Inviting all to strum along.
The Caribbean sparkling morning breeze
Made that event a day to please.
The children, singing melodiously,
Hosted the royal pair — O so gloriously.
“Long Time Gal Mi Neva See You…”
Burst forth the lyrics of Miss Lou.
The second line stirred up the band.
“Come Mek Mi Hold Your Hand…”
Elizabeth, the Queen, and Philip, the Duke
Could not this friendly ballad rebuke.
The celebration gave all a cheer.
To some, it even left a tear.
For me, a schoolboy at age eighteen,
The memory is indubitably quite keen.
The island, no longer a colony of the crown…
Since nineteen sixty two, is on her own.
Jamaica now marches forward at her own beat,
Standing victoriously on her own two feet.
Her head to the skies, she declares without fear,
Knowing with certainty the Lord will hear:
“Eternal Father, Bless Our Land,
Grant us With Thy Mighty Hand.”

About this poem

I was born in the Caribbean island of Jamaica, a colonial possession of Great Britain. In 1959, I migrated to the United States on a British passport, being declared at that time, a citizen of The United Kingdom and her Colonies. While living and growing up in Jamaica, I was, ironically, never a citizen of the island but, like all other Jamaicans at that time, a subject of the British Crown. Yet, my memories, my indelible childhood memories, are those of the tropical Caribbean, tempered by the nurturing of a British legacy and, since then, glossed over with the buffering of American sentiments. And yet forever echoing in my breast, never ever to be at rest, are the vibrant lyrics of the Jamaican ballad, “This Long Time Gal Mi Neva See You,” sung by Louise Simone Bennett-Coverly (“Miss Lou”), Jamaica’s poet, folklorist, writer, and educator, honored by Queen Elizabeth II, with a number of awards, including that of Member of the Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). While paying homage to Queen Elizabeth II, this poem pays special tribute to Jamaica’s Miss Lou. 

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Written on October 29, 2021

Submitted by karlcfolkes on October 29, 2021

1:41 min read

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

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    "A Schoolboy’s Memory of Elizabeth the Queen" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 20 Jan. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/112986/a-schoolboy%E2%80%99s-memory-of-elizabeth-the-queen>.

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