I wrote poems as a child, mostly when still at primary school, aged 9 or 10, and I still remember them all. They were childish, of course, though in retrospect I suppose I had a good grasp of metre and rhyme. Some of them were about childish things. I no longer believed in Father Christmas, but I did write about him.
I know a man in red and white
Who comes here every Christmas night
He brings the toys all in a sack,
But does it when we turn our back
Jingle jingle goes the sleigh
The reindeer stop along the way
As every chimney he goes down
On his way about the town.
I had no theoretical knowledge of iambs and dactyls, but often I wrote in iambic tetrameter (di-dah di-dah di-dah di-dah). Sometimes I used rhyming iambic pentameter, which many years later I learned to call heroic couplet.
Remembering some of my efforts, I am surprised at the complexity of some of my metres. I wrote about a steam train when I was between 9 and 10 years old, when steam trains were the norm.
With a whistle and a puff and a bang, bang, bang
The express bell went clang, clang, clang.
The guard blew his whistle and waved his flag
And threw on the mail in a big black bag.
I note the triple alliteration at the end with "big black bag." No-one taught me to do that, or how to use metre and rhyme. I suppose I must have picked it up by reading other poems and listening to songs.
I was once made to recite my poems while my teacher, Miss Burgess, and the head teacher, Mary Balders, listened. I covered my embarrassment by reciting them monotonously with no stress.
I never really continued to write poetry, though I developed an abiding love of it. As a teenager I wrote about the ruined cathedral at St Andrews.
We lightly stepped among the stones
Where now the grass and weeds have grown
Where once the great cathedral stood -
Man's timeless monument to God.
The three tall spires alone remain -
Time's monument to man's insane
Destructive urge. We reached the spot
Where once the altar was and thought
Upon the folly of the race
That desecrated such a place.
And as a student I amused myself by writing a full-length comic verse play ("The Worms") in the style of Aristophanes. But since then my enjoyment of poetry has been as a consumer of other people's work, rather than as a producer of my own.