My Grandad and Me

Anti-capitalist poetry across the generations

by Ellie Leopold

I never knew my Grandad Fred. He died before I was born and my dad has never been much of a talker so I didn’t hear any stories about Grandad growing up.

It was always clear to me where my love for the outdoors came from - my parents were both persistently active and anything that could be done alfresco, was. But the source of my love and keenness - albeit amateurish - for literature was more of a mystery.

Then, while attempting the laborious challenge of sorting my belongings out after university, I stumbled upon a collection of poems with the signature, F J Leopold.

Don’t get me wrong, my Grandad’s definitely not the next e. e. cummings or Langston Hughes; most of his poems are collections of sentimental couplets that lack substance or symbolism. However, as I was scouring through this new found family heirloom, one poem did catch my eye.

This poem, as many of his poems, was written at the beginning of the 1950s. After moving from London to Coventry at the beginning of the Second World War to avoid the bombing (not the best decision as Coventry ended up being the location of the single most concentrated attack on a British city), Fred and his family were now faced with another challenge of survival. They must find sustenance and financial stability in a country battered down by economic recession.

When I read this poem, I realised, disappointedly, how little had changed some 70 years on. Below you can read Fred’s poem, and my response two generations later.

Now I sit and wonder what conversations we might have had, had we had the chance.

My response poem:

A platinum celebration,

Tainted by an unbroken trance,

Held fast by the mob that twists the knob,

Playing the same old dance.

Teslas, iPhones, Monzos,

Replace Thunderbirds, Rotaries, nickels,

Planned obsolescence makes want,

And on the mobs chant,

Profit! Profit! Profit!

Millions still starve and freeze,

Bitten by the business guise,

Mankind’s desire for pleasure’s taste,

Leaves behind a cloud of waste.

Time has lay wasted enough,

We are not fools, let us not be played.

Take off your cheap jewels,

Empty your pools.

Gen Z,

What do you say?

Ellie is passionate about all things health and innovation - she wants to know what health might look like in a future, more equal system. She also looks for any opportunity to do something new in her own life - whether it's wild swimming, wild camping, or in this case, building an online magazine and writing articles, check them out here!