We joined Chestnut Class this week who were enjoying a fantastic poem written during World War 2 by acclaimed author and poet, John Pudney. The poem is entitled “Empty your pockets“, which describes how the men of Britain were called to arms.
About John Pudney
John Sleigh Pudney was a 20th century English poet, fiction writer and journalist. He was born on the 19th January 1909 in a small village called Langley Marish, Berkshire. His parents were able to send him away to be educated at Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk and it was here that his love of literature was nurtured. Friends at school included future writers W H Auden and Benjamin Britten.
Pudney did not, perhaps, make the most of the education that was offered to him as he decided to leave at the age of 16. His first forays into the world of work included spells at the BBC, writing scripts and producing radio programmes. He also worked as an estate agent, but his driving ambition was to become a writer.
The Poem: “Empty Your Pockets”
Empty your pockets, Tom, Dick and Harry,
Strip your identity, leave it behind.
Lawyer, garage-hand, grocer, don’t tarry
With your own country, your own kind.
Leave all your letters. Suburb and township,
Green fen and grocery, slipway and bay,
Hot-spring and prairie, smoke stack and coal-tip,
Leave in our keeping while you’re away.
Tom, Dick and Harry, plain names and numbers,
Pilot, observer and gunner depart.
Their personal litter only encumbers
Somebody’s head, somebody’s heart.
Drama: Acting out the poem
After reading and understanding the meaning of the poem, the children split into groups to act out the story depicted in the words. Please click on the thumbnails below for a larger view.