Childhood Through The Eyes Of Richard Aldington
Is Richard Aldington's view of childhood accurate?
The bitterness. the misery, the wretchedness of childhood
Put me out of love with God.
I can't believe in God's goodness;
I can believe
In many avenging gods.
Most of all I believe
In gods of bitter dullness,
Cruel local gods
Who scared my childhood.
This is the first stanza from the poem Childhood by British poet, Richard Aldington. The entire poem is a walk-through of the poet’s life and of the area he grew up in. It is a gray poem filled with gloomy, cold thoughts. It is one of the most honest, realistic poems I’ve ever read.
For anyone who had or felt they had an unhappy childhood, this stanza voices thoughts we may have been too shy or closed off to say. They are private thoughts, the ones that people reserve for therapy or a night of too much drinking. It paints a picture of an unhappy period in one’s life that was meant to be carefree and joyful.
Aldington begins with, “The bitterness. the misery, the wretchedness of childhood”. Though the poet stands before you an established, respected adult, you can’t help, but picture them as a short, mature looking child, cigarette hanging from their lips, a glass of wine in one hand. Do you take them seriously? Or do you laugh these words off as merely melodramatic? He finishes the sentence with “Put me out of love with God.” What could make one feel so deeply? You must read more.
Clearly, the poet’s childhood was full of unfair, unkind, depressing events. He is in pain, unable to look past the cards that have been dealt to him. He has lost his faith, unable to believe in a god who would allow him to be repeatedly wronged. He has known too many corrupt people (“avenging gods,” “gods of bitter dullness” and “cruel local gods”) to be able to believe in the loving God spoken about in the Bible.
We, like the poet, have known people who “scared my childhood.” This line groups together all of the bullies and unjust people we’ve ever met. They are the people who hurt us that our parents willingly let into our lives, believing them to be harmless. They are the people whose actions still give us nightmares to this day. We are cautious never to meet people like them again and promise ourselves to never let such people near our kids. When we think about these people, our own faith in God seems to wane. Like the poet, we have to question why such a supposedly benevolent, all-seeing being could allow such harm to come upon a child.
Aldington’s language is dark, his message simple. He allows us to see his life through his eyes which, in turn, makes us see our own. It is poems like this that makes us wonder if the world our grandparents speak of, that safe, lock free world, ever existed. The world is an imperfect place. Rose colored glasses are ultimately only glass.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2009 L A Walsh