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The Old Battered Chest, a Poem About Memories

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded the "Best Poet 2014 and 2021" Hubby Awards.

Treasure Hunting

Most of us have at some stage had to clean out or tidy up an attic, shed, garage, or storage room. I know when I do I always find treasures I have forgotten existed, in amongst the junk.

Especially if you are cleaning up for a parent or grandparent, for instance, you may come across previously unseen treasures and windows to the past that stir the imagination and reveal lost or hidden secrets.

This poem is just a short break from my Off the Shelf series. That has helped to get my writing mojo back, however, and I am sure I will return to it soon as I still have hundreds more book titles to cover.

The Old Battered Chest

In the attic, much neglected

A wooden chest awaits,

Old and battered, long forgotten,

Just resigned to fate.

Journeys made both near and far

On air and sea, and land.

Stickers from around the world

Where this chest has been first hand.

What secrets may be stored inside,

For decades never seen?

When will history be revealed

From where this trunk has been?

Within are clothes from yesterday

That ladies wore in style,

Now tattered lace and fraying silk

Not worn in quite awhile.

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Envelopes with photos,

Sepia, colour, black and white,

Showing scenes from long ago.

A historical file of life.

Memories of yesterday,

When everything was slow,

Horse and buggy, early cars,

Steam engines and boats.

Handwritten on the back of some,

Fountain penned in ink,

The subject's name, places and dates,

Their stories to depict.

A rusted Danish cookie tin

Sits neatly in the trunk

Containing clippings from the war,

About a Naval ship that sunk.

A sailor’s written pledge of love,

For now and evermore,

Pouring out his bleeding heart

To a sweetheart named Lenore.

But people’s lives today move fast

There's little time to waste.

The attic sits lamenting

The world now runs on haste.

One day the dwelling's owners

May decide to leave the nest

Then be forced to clean the attic,

And check inside the battered chest.


A Lovely Song - Please Have a Listen

© 2018 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 09, 2018:

Yes it is amazing the amount of wonderful stories and history that are hidden away in chests and attics to never be told to the world imless someone stumbles upon them. My own father didn’t talk a lot about WWII for instance but we stumbled upon photos and medals when going through an old chest. Fortunately my mum was there to explain some of the photos. Thank you for reading.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 09, 2018:

Hi, John,

Wonderful poem.

It's amazing how much of human history gets put away in a chest.

While looking through my Dad's old battered chest, we learned of so many stories he kept to himself. They were awards he never mentioned. I think it's because he wanted us to always try to walk a humble path.

Thanks for sharing this fabulous work.

Much respect and admiration,


John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 08, 2018:

Yes, Dianna, these memories and treasures need to be protected for posterity. Thank you for reading.

Dianna Mendez on October 08, 2018:

Oh how this brings back memories of my dad's worn suitcase. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they are precious treasures of old.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 04, 2018:

Glad it brought back memories Devika. Thanks for reading.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 04, 2018:

Wow! Definitely a memory. I remembered seeing these chests in the 80s.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 03, 2018:

Lawrence, that sounds like a great start to a novel. You seem to be on a nice roll with your novel writing so good for you. Thanks for reading this and enjoying.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 03, 2018:


Loved this poem.

I've got a novel in my planning stages that starts with something like this, except its based on a true story.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 11, 2018:

Thank you for reading this poem, Ron. Yes, it is a shame to consider how many memories and histories are lost just by being discarded in the trash etc instead of being stored for future generations to look back on.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 11, 2018:

I can really identify with this poem, because I love uncovering old, forgotten things, especially if they bring back family memories. It pains me to think of how much of my family's history is lost because we never had any old battered chests to house our mementos of the past.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 10, 2018:

Thank you for reading this Rajan. I am glad the good old memories came flooding back.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 10, 2018:

Oh yes, John, I can relate to that. Memories, old memories came flooding. Those were good old days!

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 10, 2018:

Thank you, Rinita. I am glad I could portray the feeling of the reality of the chest and that you could relate to the search through old forgotten memories. Thanks for sharing your own experience at your dad-in-law's house.

Rinita Sen on September 10, 2018:

Your poetic calibre gives that real feel to the forgotten chest so deeply, John. We get this feeling whenever we go to my dad-in-law's empty house, to clean, etc. We always run into something old, which we didn't know existed - an old book, black and white photographs, a shirt in perfectly good condition, and so on.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 08, 2018:

I agree with everything you say manatita. Glad you enjoyed the song. Thanks for reading.

manatita44 from london on September 08, 2018:

Fond memories and reminiscences of the past, including that of our folks. Yes, a nice song. Unlocking the door to the stairway of time and having a look into the trunk of the past. Some great surprises, nearly always. Forgotten pieces too. A lovely song.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 08, 2018:

Genna, how wonderful to find that your dad wrote poetry to your mum. you are right that these memories are more valuable than currency. Thanks for reading.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on September 08, 2018:

We never know the treasures we might find when rummaging through or reorganizing our attics, basements or storage rooms. When I went through our storage room and an old box of Mum's letters and cards, I was stunned to find poetry that my father had to written to my mother when they were courting. (I still miss and think of them often.) He was a beautiful writer. Your poem so eloquently reminds us of the memories and lives past that are richer in gifts than what any currency could provide. Thank you for sharing this with us.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 08, 2018:

Thank you, brother Sean. Glad you enjoyed the poem and the song also. The history of our ancestors makes us who we are. We need to keep revisiting.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on September 08, 2018:

A lovely tribute to these "time capsules" we all have, my brother John! I can see an allegory - and I think this beautiful song helps to that - about the treasures we all keep in our Hearts and we have to visit once in a while to remember who we really are! I loved it!

God Bless your treasure...


John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 07, 2018:

Hi Shannon. Thank you. Yes, the memories need to be set free.

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 07, 2018:

Beautiful sentiments here. The history of a life locked inside the chest just waiting to be found sooner or later.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 07, 2018:

Thank you, Rasma. Yes, old attics always had that intrigue for me also as a child. There were many depictions in stories of adventures to be had and treasures to be found in them.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on September 07, 2018:

Your wonderful poem reminded me of my very imaginative mind while growing up. My parents always lived in apartments and I was a real bookworm and I so wished I had an attic I could dream in.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 07, 2018:

Hi Chitrangada, yes it is the same with me. It usually happens when we move house, need to do some renovations, or declutter. There are things you never want to throw away but that you rarely look at or forget about until you are forced to. Glad you could relate and enjoy.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 07, 2018:

This is so-so relatable!

It happens with me, every time I rearrange my old stuff, such as the old suitcases, almirah and other belongings. So many sweet memories are refreshed. I really enjoy going through the handwritten letters, old greeting cards, photos etc. But these days, people don’t have enough time, to notice small details, as you mention—they are in haste.

Really enjoyed going through your poem. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 07, 2018:

Yes, MsDora, I find it exciting when searching through an attic etc. You never know what you might find but there are usually pleasant surprises. thank you for reading this.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 07, 2018:

So much history, sentiments, inspiration and insights await us if we took the time to search the old luggage. Just the thought of it is enriching. Thanks for the message.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 06, 2018:

Well, finally published. I didn't realise it would take so long to be re-evaluated and cleared after being declined the first time. It may have been easier to write it as a new hub rather than alter the existing one. But he it is.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 05, 2018:

I tried to publish this yesterday but it was immediately declined due to duplication. That was my fault as I had previously published it elsewhere but thought I had deleted it there. Anyway, I have totally changed the poem, though the theme is similar. If you tried to read it yesterday unsuccessfully, please try again.

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