This prologue is the first stanza in a sequence of ten poems about Thomas Chatterton. The other nine stanzas are from the viewpoints of individuals, e.g. his mother, a girlfriend, his doctor, who are imagined standing at the foot of his deathbed remembering him. He influenced many lives.
He learned to read from a black-letter Bible,
was thought a backward boy, no scholar.
Lonely, close and comely,
poor boy was deemed a dullard.
He forged his first letters from
cutting consonants, reviewing verbs,
giving names to nouns.
Memory on memory makes his story,
they talk of it still sighing their sorrows.
Merciless London, no crumb offered,
the baker rebuffed him for begging a loaf.
Polly Stretton © 2013