The Narrative Poem: A tribute to Harper Lee 12



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Just recently a blog site I visit made reference to the death of Harper Lee. We were asked to write a narrative poem in tribute to her.

Having read her novel so many years ago and had the pleasure of teaching it multiple times over the years it made me think of what I would write as my tribute.

Below are two of the very famous quotes from the novel, among so many.

The second one has always resonated within me. We so easily make value judgements every day so often without thinking and so often we are surprised by what we discover is the truth behind a persons living situation.

There’s a man who sleeps each night on the top step of the local grandstand.

He became the subject of my narrative.

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

  1. Grandstand Joe sits atop the stairs

  2. Observes all that lies below him.

  3. The early morning sun pokes its way towards him

  4. He winces as he stares east

  5. Grateful he has survived another night.

  6. He watches the walkers and joggers move past him

  7. Some glance up, most ignore him

  8. He doesn’t care, he’s alive, he has routines.

  9. Gathering his possessions

  10. He’s off to the servo

  11. They let him use the toilets there.

  12. He checks the bins on the way

  13. There’s good pickings outside the chicken shop.

  14. He sits at the bus stop

  15. Not wanting to go anywhere

  16. But to watch the world go by.

  17. There’s a crust in his bag from yesterday,

  18. He chews on it as the workers all depart.

  19. His speech is stilted as he rarely speaks.

  20. The lady at the op shop knows him, knows his size

  21. Knows he’ll be in, come the first winter breeze.

  22. She knows only his first name

  23. Not his story or where he’s from

  24. He’s just a man, down on his luck.

  25. ‘Who am I to judge,’ she thinks.

  26. ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’

What was your favourite book by Harper Lee?

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Michael Grogan

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