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Diss Grammar School

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Diverse - Poets     icon_poetry

A small selection of poetry penned by Old Dysseans.   All printed in earlier issues of The Dyssean or The Old Dyssean magazine.   So if you've got some stuff that needs publishing then let's have a copy.

There's more poetry in the various school and Old Dyssean produced magazines.

Starting with something light hearted ...


Diss is fatherless by this man's dying:
And not Diss only: over the whole earth
Men thrive and work in whose lives he gave birth
To logic of wisdom, scorn of that lying
The world condones, that cowardice, those tasks
Done less well than in one's power to do;
Scorn of self-gain, mean-ness that always asks
More than it gives; he did not fear the new,
But served and taught and lived the sound, the food,
Looking for these in all things, in all men,
All children; himself a maker, made them
Become creative; talented, he would
Laugh his great laugh, sing finely, carve a stool,
But, work patiently; be himself, our school.

On the death of Eric Pursehouse Headmaster
by Miss Sybilla (Sibylla) Gratiana Thicknesse


On the thrid of September, 'thirty nine,
A queue of children stood in line,
Clutching outsized sandwich packs,
Gas masks cases on their backs.
I was there, but not alone —
My "keeper" was my sister Joan.
Hitler's bombers were on their way,
So in rural England we'd have to stay,
Sailing on the "Royal Daffoldil'
To our foster-folk (for good or ill!)

Berthing at a Suffolk port,
We practised the gas drill we'd been taught
Then spent the night in a picture house
(Saw Deanna Durbin and Mickey Mouse).
Next day, they moved us on to Diss,
Where things began to go amiss,
Joan and I met foster-mum,
Who left us feeling rather glum
By threatening to tan my hide
If I wet the bed, played truant or lied.
We ran away, found another home
From which we had no wish to roam.
The lady gave us sweets and cake,
Her husband rowed us on the lake.
Life in that lakeside home was bliss.
At Barclay's Bank House in the town of Diss.

On Christmas Eve morning, sister Joan
Got Diss station on the 'phone,
Then charged around like one deranged,
Packing our bags: "It's all arranged",
Said she, "We're off to London Town,
Where Mum and Dad have settled down
In Uncle's pub for Christmas Day.
I really had no grounds for doubt
That our foster-parents knew about
The railway journey Joan had planned,
So off we toddled, hand-in-hand;
She was thirteen I was nine.
Alone on the Norwich-London line.

As we trekked in through the boozer door,
Mum turned white, nearly fell thourgh the floor.
Uncle rubbed his eyes, and shuddered,
My dad said; "Well, I'll be buggered!"
Then everyone started to kiss, and cry,
While I just stood and wondered why
Everyone seemed so very surprised
To see us, though they'd been advised?!?
In time , of course, the truth was known —
Our trip was a surprise to all but Joan.

On the 'Run for home' by his sister Joan from 'Uplands'
where they were evacuees, Author — Alan Title


At the Saturday hop my heart seemed to stop
At the sight of an auburn-haired vision.
I stood in a trance, scared to ask her to dance,
Afraid she'd respond with derision.

Her dad (whom I knew) called out, "Take a pew!
Meet the mob: this is Julie my daughter.
Sit with her, over there." He drew up a chair
" There you are-aren't you glad that I brought her?"

The music was loud as I sat with the crowd;
My host bellowed out, "Billy? Andy?
While you're up at the bar, could you buy as a jar,
And get this young fellow a shandy!"

At sixteen years old, I'd never been told
About beer-shandy's flatulent property.
So I gulped down the drink, which was purchased, I think
By a man with a limp, "Billy Hoppity".

An innocent question upset my digestion
And triggered the gaffe that transpired.
" What will you do, when your schooldays are through?"
An adult politely enquired.

I spoilt my reply to the well-bred old guy,
The worthy ex-mayor Roland Quelch,
By crudely, unwittingly, loudly emitting
A vulgarly-resonant belch.

It was blatantly rude. In the hush that ensued
I dashed out ... ran home through the rain.
The burp at the dance cut short my romance.
I never touched shandy again.

Alan Titley


Beyond the shadow of the tiny streets,
Beyond the languid Mere the willow meets
The water with a tender hand, shielding
In vibrant veil the cygnets' nest, yeilding
With softest answer to the wind's caress
Coolly regarding with leafy thoughtfullness
The furrowing ripplets' ever widening line.
So from St. Mary's tower at the ebbing time
Flows undulating to the farther shore
To mingle with the fading tones that pour
Ab antiquo ...
Where Dyssean spirits bend to see
The whispering courts whose beamed antiquity
Has watched historic, ideal, artless cares.
When darkening sky and shy, uncertain stars
Unthrone the gleaming emissary that burns
By day, in cold, etheral concern
Those townsmen from the past's eternal days
Move down neglected, fair, eternal ways
On noiseless feet. Slow gentle winds that stir
The stepworn walks of ghostly lavender
And smile from the grey church, the guardian hill,
To see the changing town is changeless still.
New form — stange artistry in brick and pier
An unknown face, but underneath is here
Quiet certainty. As the constant springtime crocus came,
Each changeless blossom the same — yet not the same.

Alan Browning (1937-1942)



Old Hamish McDonald lay dying,
His kinfolk surrounding his bed.
David, his pal, sat there trying
To hear the last words Hamish said:

"As you see, friend, I'm now less than frisky,
So do me a favour please, Dave.
When they bury me, uncork the whisky
And sprinkle it over my grave."

"Do it ... if my friendship you treasure ..."
Gasped Hamish, now breathing his last.
Said Dave: "It'll be a real pleasure,
But I have one last question to ask."

"In view of our mutual affection
And my well-known unquenchable thirst,
Would you have any strongish objection
If it passed through my kidneys first?"

Alan Titley (Evacuee 1939)


Think of days past and gone,
Ponder on those carrying on,
Who so far have managed to
Escape some damage time can do.
We have all arrived
At a point - to say survived
The vicissitudes of Time and Life.

Here we are united all,
Once again we heed the call
And come to our Reunion.
Talk of days long gone
When school filled much of our time.
We did not appreciate our prime,
Before us lay ...
To be explored.

Now 'tis past we have the pleasure
Of re-living in some measure,
And laughing ruefully
About Old Times.
life has dealt its pleasure
And its blows in various measure.

So it goes - appreciate now
To meet again and have "Pow-wow".
Then on we go, another year,
Say farewells and disappear.

Once we saw each other daily
Now we manage it but yearly.
But how we savour the joy
Of recalling girl and boy.

Time has passed
Yet still we see
On peering closely,
The old, familiar
You and Me.

Barbara Robinson (Loveday 1942-'47)


It was on a Friday morning the gasman came to call;
" Good morning, do come in" I said as he stepped into the hall.
" I am ready for you; have put newspapers on the floor";
The poor man turned quite pale and stayed and close to the door.
" Ready! Ready for what?" he sharply asked,
" To read the meter is my task".
With great haste the meter was read;
Before I could thank him he had fled.
As arranged the gas engineer arrived, 'tho late:
To him my tale I did relate.
" It's his body he thought you were after"
He said, creasing up with raucous laughter.
I think perhaps I should just mention
Nothing untoward was my intention.
So be careful when a gasman's expected
Make sure with which department he's connected.

Margaret Grierson (Coleman 1940-1945)


One lone large plane,
Drones heavily,
In Norfolk sky.
I peer from window into darkness,
Lights red and green,
Move slowly above.

I am back in memory,
It is nineteen forty-three,
I tired, safe abed,
Hear planes, heavily,
Wave upon wave,
Droning away from nearby 'dromes,
Laden, heavy.
Contrasting then, in child's mind,
With pre-war sound of lone,
Light aircraft purring singly,
High above a tiny speck,
To be watched languorously,
As a child I lay, carefree,
Eyes upwardcast from bed of heather,
Resting from play —
Before war-clouds banked,
Pressed in and changed the sounds,
Of light planes of pleasure,
To ominous drones of death.
Wave upon wave they came,
Til I gently
Drifted to sleep.

Barbara Robinson (nee Loveday) 1942-1947


Time once
Was hoarded in limitless coffers
And doled out slowly,
Birthdays, Christmas,
Took life-times to arrive.
School summer holidays,
Awash with sunlight,
Lasted forever.

Somewhere along life's road,
The giver has turned profligate
With this diminishing reserve.
Are paid out with abandon
And slip through my fingers

June Armstrong-Wright (Crawley 1942-1944)


Continuing with the small selection of poetry penned by Old Dysseans. These are from the school magazine Cosa Nostra produced in the late 1970s. So: poetry featured highly in those days!





... and still continuing with the small, but getting bigger, selection of poetry penned by Old Dysseans. These are from the school magazine Pawn 1982.




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"Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini"
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