In Praise of a Maiden Aunt – an ode

Dear Winnie,
I can see you now,
plump,  and plain,
with wispy blond hair
scraped back in a bun,
pebble glasses and a sour look;
dressed like Grandma
in knicker-peach corsets,
a frumpy brown dress
with lace modesty vest
and old lady shoes.

Dad called you Twitter and Bisted –
you were pretty cranky at thirty-five.
But I know better now:
a concert pianist manqué
for want of cash for training,
a blighted love
for your unattainable boss.
Cause enough for crankiness.

You gave me my first lessons
on that lovely grand piano
in the cramped front room –
a lifelong love affair for me,
a tragedy for you
in a life sacrificed
to look after the Grans.
Your talents unrecognised,
your music too soon silenced.
You were a heroine of your time.

We Write Poems  asks for a memory poem, whilc dVerse wants an Ode or praise poem.  The two prompts fit so well together, I couldn’t resist a combination Ode.


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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17 Responses to In Praise of a Maiden Aunt – an ode

  1. I loved reading this, Viv. I can picture Winnie so clearly.


  2. I’d say she had plenty of reasons to be cranky, but it is wonderful that she passed the gift of music on to you.


  3. Viv this is beautiful. I know Winnie would probably sputter some cranky comment but in heart of hearts she would love you for this tribute. I too have kinfolk who were prickly on the outside but mush on the inside. I really enjoyed the read. Happy Holidays to you. D


  4. Irene says:

    A sensitive lovely ode.


  5. kkkkaty1 says:

    Wistful ode to your aunt….I’m sure she would be happy to know you thought of her in such fond ways…many young women didn’t have the opportunity to attend college, for instance, yet have been great leaders, rich in spirit and kind ….she was a kind lady.


  6. Susan Chast says:

    To me the poem seemed to open in stereotype, so your individuation of your subject surprised and delighted. Most astonishing is the child-view balanced with the understanding of the look back, and seeing this reasonably depressed human being as a hero and one who gave you a life-long love.


  7. ManicDdaily says:

    Many generations of women have had such hard times and especially if single– though others had plenty of difficulties with men. This is a lovely and very vivid tribute and also description of an age. K.


  8. I admire this tribute though it is sad. You really brought her to life for me.


  9. Mary says:

    Beautifully written poem, Viv. Poignant. It is nice that she passed on her love of piano to you!


  10. stimmyabby says:

    Loved the images, particularly “wispy blond hair/ scraped back in a bun,/ pebble glasses and a sour look”. 🙂


  11. colonialist says:

    Beautifully told in ode.
    Life seems so cruel, sometimes, to give significant talents and then deny the full expression of them. Only karmic theory seems to make any sense of something like that.


  12. Tony Maude says:

    The sacrifice that was expected of her is still expected of too many people, mostly women. And yet, our more mature citizens need to be cared for … it’s not easy to strike the right balance.

    I enjoyed this picture of your Aunt – that Spoonerism is one I’ve heard frequently.


  13. To common a sacrifice… still is I’m afraid. Talent recognition comes from such a limited pool of people… well written.


  14. brian miller says:

    sometimes responsibility trumps passion…not that it should be that way, but life happens…i am glad though she passed it on to you first….


  15. There are women who have lived lives so out of keeping with who they could have been. Heroines, truly.


  16. Misky says:

    That’s a lovely poem, and so visual. I could see Winnie, and that piano, and her expressions, and you learning to play. Thank you so much for this wonderful piece, Viv.


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