Poem For a Refugee Child

my grandmother's book

my grandmother’s book

I am currently up in Scotland staying with my mother, who is ninety seven, and hearing from her again the wonderful stories of my forbears, wonderers, poets, preachers, artists, and dreamers of one sort or another. After I had given her my new book of poems Parable and Paradox, and read some of the poems to her, including some those about the present refugee crisis, we took from the shelves the book of poems her mother had published in 1922 which included this powerful poem written for a refugee child in Glasgow. My Grandmother taught English and History in a school which took children from the poorer districts of Glagow, and this powerful poem with its deep compassion and empathy for the refugee and the exile, came out of that experience. I post it now both because it is International Refugee Day and also because it is part of my hope that my own country will not forget itself and turn its back on the refugees and on our long tradition of welcome and hospitality. My Grandmother’s book contains poems with their own music, filled with passion and compassion, and includes a series of sonnets for the city she loved. Her’s is a tradition which I am, in my own way, seeking to continue.

The Gean-tree, I should mention is the Scottish name for the wild cherry.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button:

A Child of the Ghetto




Filed under literature, Poems

5 responses to “Poem For a Refugee Child

  1. Elaine Erb

    Wow!!! Thank you for sharing your story and your ancestral art form. Malcolm, I am the person who took your class last summer at Regent College for two credits. Your class was my first experience at Regent as well as graduate studies.You have obviously inspired me. Since your class I did New Testament Foundations, through Regent’s Distance Ed, and this summer I will be taking three more classes. As well, I hope to be studying at Regent this fall. I also hope to be able to see you at work this summer in possibly a noon hour panel discussion or evening lecture at Regent. Thank you Malcom Guite. Your poetry has most definitely been jamming my machine. Cheers.

  2. You and Steve Bell both with your aging parents…gifts to give and gifts to receive! And your grandmother’s voicing of her heart…thank you.

  3. John Halkes

    Deeply moving. And like you- I sense that I am in land bordered by shame. Do send this to Farage – perhaps via the broadsheets.

    Thanks and regards,

    John Halkes

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