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When All the World Was Young

Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.


When All the World Was Young

When all the world was young

Where did those bright days go?

Down the dusty boardwalk

In your straw hat

So many years ago,

Brother Bill right behind you

Every step of the way

When all the world was young.

Scroll to Continue

Laughing in the garden

Big sisters always near

Summers quickly passing

And so do the years,

One day you're in school

And helping out with chores,

In the blink of an eye you're seventeen

And now the world's at war.

The world aged so quickly then

And I know you did too

At eighteen you wear a uniform

Like all the fellas do,

The task is set before you

You are steadfast and true.

How is it that I never knew

The things you had to do?

You volunteered for service

To Suffield you did go,

Experimental station for

Chemical warfare, now we know.

Now we know, why you aged so

With all the damage done

So many years ago

When all the world was young.

Sixty years later

Your family recieves

Notice you were subjected

To poisonous gas secretly.

Our country was at war

Is what they have to say

Thank you for the sacrifice

Of lost years you had to pay.


© 2012 Verlie Burroughs


Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on February 28, 2013:

Hi Mr Gramman, You must be so proud of your Dad's service. I wish I had known all this when my Dad was alive. Better late than never I guess. I thought it was Spring here a few days back but another storm rolled in with rain and wind. Enjoy your evening!

epigramman on February 28, 2013:

Back to revisit a classic - I want to sing The way we were made famous by Barbara Streisand when I read this again and yes my dad was my best friend and taken away far too early back in 1992 from my mum and I.

I have a couple of army pictures like the one up above as I my dad served in World War II for 6 six years and stormed the beaches at Juno on D-Day ......

I know he would be proud of my output at the Hub and if he were still alive he'd be checking out pretty girls like you ......

sending you warm wishes from Colin, Tiffy and Gabriel with glass of red wine and listening to Tom Waits on a dark night with no stars or moon by the lake of erie time 9:22pm

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on January 27, 2013:

bizarrett, Thank you for the read, appreciate the 'beautiful'.

Elizabeth Barrett Kearney from Maine on January 26, 2013:

Beautiful poem!

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on January 13, 2013:

Ep Thank you, and thanks for that great story about your dad (and mum). His manuscript sounds like an awesome resource and a legacy to treasure. Re: fan mail and following, very much appreciated. Following on Hub Pages gets complicated and I have opted out of it mostly. Instead I usually just go to individual profiles, check activities and follow from there, works better for me.

epigramman on January 12, 2013:

....well I loved my dad very much too - he was my best friend (as was my mum) and he served in the 2nd World War as a Canadian soldier for 6 years and landed on the Juno beach during D-Day and wrote memoirs of his experiences in a book (sadly unpublished) so yes I do relate to your beautiful heartfelt poetic tribute to your dad.

Also my dad decided to visit his hometown of Stirling, Scotland and on leave from his regiment in England he went back home for the first time since he was 2 years old. He met my mum there - they courted - they kiss ontop of the Wallace Monument (eat your heart out Mel Gibson) and they courted some more - after the war was over my mum came over on the famous Queen Mary as a war bride and met my dad once again in his other hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.

Yes so your lovely poetic story brought back all of these memories.

I have sent you fan mail by the way - and your Bowie new album didn't come through but I shall look for it - 1:09am lake erie time

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on August 30, 2012:

Debby, Thank you for the warm comment, much appreciated.

itouchtheworld, Thank you. I appreciate your comment.

itouchtheworld on August 30, 2012:

It's really touching..

Debby Bruck on August 29, 2012:

Dear Snakeslane ~ Not much more can be added to all these glowing emotional comments about your artistry, and story telling through poetry. He would be so proud of you. A most tender dedication to your dad. (HUGS) Debby

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on August 29, 2012:

Alastar, thank you for reading. It is interesting that our father's stories are similar. I found it very difficult to write this poem, it was heart wrenching. I certainly appreciate that it would stir up sentimental feelings. I guess my work is done :)

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on August 29, 2012:

Your father's experiences in his home life and war are similar in certain ways to my father though one was from Canada and the other from Tennessee. Beautiful poem that has made me very sentimental snakeslane.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on August 20, 2012:

Thank you Perspycacious, your comment is much appreciated.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on August 20, 2012:

Even with the right inspiration, you crafted a beautiful tribute to someone very special, a Hub uniquely your own. Up and all but funny.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on August 05, 2012:

Thank you donnaisabella for your gracious and thoughtful response.

Isabella Mukanda from Fort Myers on August 05, 2012:

Snakeslane, this beautifully written poem reminds me of my own dad whom I write about as well. Having a dad is a wonderful thing and it is even more wonderful when we can recall our lives with our dads. Your poem captures some highlights from your father's life almost showing us the progress of one life and indeed how meaningful that is to those who know him. On the other hand how insignificant his life could be to those who see him only as one of many. There are things in life that are irreversible that people should not take so lightly. Chemical poisoning, damage done to a human body that cannot be corrected and insufficient compensations should be treated with much respect knowing that families care beyond the years a person may live. I am so sorry about your dad and I hope writing this poetry has brought some kind of breathing space and healing. Stay blessed.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 28, 2012:

Thank you Lucky Cats. War has touched us all, sometimes without us even knowing it. It is the same feeling you convey in your poem abut the Viet Nam War memorial wall. As writers we would be remiss not to acknowledge these painful losses. I really appreciate your reading and commenting on so many of my pages the past few days.

Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on July 28, 2012:

Hey Snakeslane; you've written such a beautiful and sorrowful poem for your father. Such a shame! Oh, the things we did not and do not know. That this touched you so closely; your dear father suffering from unethical experimentation...a tragedy! Your words, the pictures you've created as your young family; brother Billy, sister as time passed;....very touching! How things change in the blink of an eye; and how time seems to pick up speed as we grow older....these things you've described in such a melancholy and respectful way. Just beautiful; whimsical. UP Beautiful Awesome Useful and Sweet; touching.

Ps...Love the pictures! They are awesome!

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 19, 2012:

rcrumple, How thoughtful of you to write this special poem, thank you very much.

Rich from Kentucky on July 19, 2012:

They sacrificed so we could be

alive today and oh so free.

Experiments on humans, never right,

have taken many from our sight.

Yet love we offer, love we share,

we have to show we really care.

They gave their lives because of love,

and now they watch from high above.

A Great Tribute! Beautifly written and soulful. My condolences to your loss.

Heaven L Burkes from The Invincible Heart of Neverland on July 08, 2012:

My heart goes out to you! So sad for your dear mom too. My dad was not taken that early - Oh my gosh. Sending much love! ~h~

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 08, 2012:

Thank you heavenleigh, for the visit, and kind words. I often wonder what life would have been like if my Dad had lived long enough to enjoy his grandchildren and his 'golden' years. (You must feel that too, it is sad.) And how different life would have been for our Mom, who lived another 30 years without him.

Heaven L Burkes from The Invincible Heart of Neverland on July 08, 2012:

This is absolutely beautiful. So very sorry for what your dad and your family went through. You are a wonderful writer. I was drawn first to this one, having lost a dad to strange circumstances as well. I look forward to reading much more from you. Thank you for being so brave in writing this one. I am sure it has helped and will continue to help others. There is great comfort in knowing that someone else understands. Big hugs, ~h~

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 25, 2012:

Hello Frank, your visit and voting awesome is much appreciated.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 25, 2012:

Snakes this gift poem really pulled the right cords.. voted awesome!!!!

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 24, 2012:

Thank you drbj, I love the old photos too, a window into long ago, appreciate the visit and your friendly comment.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 24, 2012:

A tender, beautiful poem, wonderful old photos, and great memories, snakeslane. Who could ask for anything more? Well done, m'dear.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 22, 2012:

Hey mckbbks, good to see you. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, you are a poet's (a writer's) dream reader. Thank you for the support.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 22, 2012:

Hello pagesvoice, I am so glad you found my poem accessible, and all the other nice things you said about it too. Putting this piece together kind of ripped my heart out, so in that way I know it isn't an easy read. It is pretty intense, and very personal, but from the response I would say you are right, we owe it to that generation to acknowledge their sacrifices and their selflessness. Thank you so much for reading and your thoughtful comments.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hello snakeslane. I just doubled back to take another read of this excellent work.

Dennis L. Page from New York/Pennsylvania border on June 22, 2012:

Truth be told, I usually shy away from reading and commenting on poetry simply because I don't have a grasp of its meaning. However, the piece you have written, along with the photos is nostalgic, impressive, heroic and sad...all rolled up into a splendid read. The things the "Greatest Generation" were exposed to are beyond comprehension and still we never heard our fathers complain. They were simply amazing!

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 21, 2012:

Hi always, so nice to see you. I am very sad you didn't know your father, but from the little I do know of your life story you have some amazing family, who love and loved you dearly. My Dad died when I was 30, so yes, I had the best years with him in my life, and I am grateful for that. I'm from a big family, five of us children, all close in age, and we are still pretty close, but we lost our Mom, and a brother in the past year. Suddenly life seems so fragile, and the grieving is ongoing. As a writer I have opened my heart to the random gifts that we are given, and to the bigger question of what makes a life. It seems to me the best I can do is to write what I know about. It's amazing how connected we all are in matters of the heart.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 21, 2012:

I had to come back and tell you this is so special to me. I never knew my father. I feel your love for your father..Thank's for sharing...

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 19, 2012:

Thank you rahul for your kind and thoughtful comment. :)

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on June 19, 2012:

I see the underlying pain with which you write this beautiful but sad piece. The technical aspects of the poem are brilliant but what connects to me is abstract mourn hidden in it

War has left so many wives, daughters, sons, mothers and fathers bereft from their husbands, fathers and sons.... torn and ripped to live their lives in disdain, pain and a forlorn hope...

My Condolences with you my friend....

Great poetry

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on June 18, 2012:

He knows snakeslane, he knows

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 18, 2012:

Thank you Rosemay :) I didn't know about this until 21 years after he had passed away, I wish I could have thanked him when he was alive.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on June 18, 2012:

You have written such a beatiful and heartfelt poem for your dad. So many like your dad suffered so that our world may survive.

When all the world was young, such a beautiful title.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 18, 2012:

Hi Larry, Thank you very much Bro...nice to see you here today. V.

brother Larry on June 18, 2012:

Wow Verlie, your poem has touched so many people! You have such a gift in bringing these wonderful memories of dad to life and thus honouring him. You deserve all the praise you are receiving. Love from your proud brother.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 18, 2012:

Thank you Ms Queen, your reading, and your comment is much appreciated.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 18, 2012:

Thank you Maria for your heartfelt comment, never late on snakes lane...

ExoticHippieQueen on June 18, 2012:

Oh Snakeslane, this brought a tear to my eye the day after Father's Day. I'm so sorry that your dad and many other brave men had to endure the terrible atrocities that they did. Your poem is wistful and haunting....when all the world was young, we will always remember....

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on June 18, 2012:


I am so happy to be late in my visit as I am able to read of the powerful and universal effect your work has on so many of us.

The love, loyalty and respect that you show your Dad is memorable and such a beautiful reflection of who you are. This tugged at my heart, which is what you put into this piece.

Voted UP & ABI. Hugs, Maria

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Hello Mhatter, thank you. I will take your wise words under advisement, much appreciated.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Sunnie! Thank you very much. Been wondering when you are going to land so we can see you again, good to see you, hope things are going well :)

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Hi Ms Swan, thank you for kind words and sharing my page. With all the sharing you do we should start calling it Sueswan Pages! You are one heck of a busy woman, and sooo generous to your fellow hubbers. Hugs to you.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Kathleen Kerswig, nice to meet you, thanks for the visit, the comment and the Blessing, I must return the favor.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on June 17, 2012:

Thank you for this. We all must "live" with decisions. allow your mind to drift in the good times. thank you for sharing.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Thank you billybuc for your thoughtful comment, much appreciated. :)

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Hello anglnwu, thank you...yes, sad it is, a loss of innocence I suppose. The front piece picture is the image that got me started on this journey. It is a photo that's been in our family a very long time, I think one of the girls in the other picture, one of my Aunts sent it to us. I've seen it throughout my life, and always loved it. Now, since our Mom passed away I've been going through the family archives, and this gem surfaced.

Sunnie Day on June 17, 2012:

Hi Snakeslane,

Oh how I have missed you..Such a busy time lately but I wanted you to know how touching and priceless this hub was. It was beautiful in every way. How proud you must be of your father touched with such a sad loss, yet lovely memories to draw from.

He must be so proud of his lovely daughter.



Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Hey Jonathan L Groom thanks.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Hello Victoria Lynn, thank you for your positive comments regarding the poem, I tend to write intuitively without any formal style or structure, so if it works I am happy to hear it. Thanks also for the vote up and sharing.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Annie, Ms Fennelseed thankyou. I never thought very much about my Dad's military past. I knew he hadn't gone overseas, so I just assumed he'd missed the War. Then, all these years later the real story comes to light. It was a shock. And yes, war has touched so many, so much lost. You've written about it beautifully yourself, I loved that photo of your Dad in his uniform in your story 'And the Dance Goes On'. I wonder if seeing your story set me on the road to doing this page? We help each other here so much. It's encouraging to get feedback from fellow writers. Thanks again. :)

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Ian, good to see you! Bloody hell, this had me in tears too, thank you for the visit today. :)

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Hello Gypsy Rose Lee, how nice to get a visit from Riga Latvia today.

Your comments are very kind, and I'm sorry you are missing your Dad too.

Sueswan on June 17, 2012:

Hi Snakeslane

Your beautiful tribute to your dad moved me deeply.

Sending you a big hug.

Take Care


Kathleen Kerswig on June 17, 2012:

I want to thank you for sharing this here as well. It is a beautiful tribute to your father. Blessings to you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2012:

It's a hard task to combine beauty and tragedy in one piece of writing but you managed it with grace in this....

A lovely tribute to dad....I'm sorry for the heartache, the pain and the tears. Justice, at times, is a myth.

Thank you for sharing this; it is important for all to read.

anglnwu on June 17, 2012:

Lovely poem--the sadness of years that went by fast and how war can affect adversely. The first picture is just so precious. Thanks for sharing.

Johnathan L Groom from Bristol, CT on June 17, 2012:


Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on June 17, 2012:

A wonderful poem that captures what your father was and sacrificed, and what you learned through him. You express everything so well. Great rhythm in this poem. Many votes. Sharing!

Annie Fenn from Australia on June 17, 2012:

Snakeslane, you have combined sweet and bitter in this beautiful poem. Those years of forever young and innocence and the horror of war and chemical warfare. Our fathers and uncles and other men of their era signed up with that innocence of youth and were aged, being taken or broken, before their time. Families were also broken and the effects passed down the generations. Beautiful poetry and a loving tribute bought to life with your treasured family photos. My votes and best wishes to you.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on June 17, 2012:

Bloody beautiful, my friend. It started with halcyon days and then as it developed, I could feel my chest tightening as I read and became aware of those horrors of war; that sacrifice.

Bloody beautiful.

(Tears stopped typing)

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on June 17, 2012:

Voted up and awesome. Wonderful introduction and tribute to your dad. So sad that war changes everyone's life for the worst. Your dad is up there among the stars so proud of you and loving his daughter while guiding her through life. I miss my dad too. Hugs to you from Riga.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Thank you Peg (our comments crossed in cyber space, maybe they waved to each other on the way?)

I like the image of our Dads throwing in their lines at the old fishing hole together, so sweet...thank you for that as well.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 17, 2012:

Beautifully written and incredibly moving, your poem pours out a combination of joy and pain and carries a host of other emotions within the depths of its verse. Your family pictures are priceless and add such a touch of nostalgia for the old times.

Your Dad was a hero and it must hurt deeply to see the careless regard in which he and his fellow servicemen were held. That award amount seems a pittance to give for purposely endangering (and shortening) someone's life.

It is so clear the respect and regard you held and still hold for your dear Dad and the tribute you've paid him today is deeply touching.

My thoughts are with you on this Father's day as we are both miss absent Dads. Perhaps they are together somewhere on a fresh water pond casting a line to a lazy fish. Wherever your Dad is, he is smiling at you.

Kindly, Peg

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

BMax, mckbbks, always, and xstatic: Thank you all for reading my poem and leaving such thoughtful comments.

I realize I have been remiss, not mentioning the poet who inspired the writing of this piece, for the record I will do that now:

"Young and Old

When all the world is young, lad,

And all the trees are green;

And every goose a swan, lad,

And every lass a queen;

Then hey for boot and horse, lad,

And round the world away!

Young blood must have its course, lad,

And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,

And all the trees are brown;

And all the sport is stale, lad,

And all the wheels run down;

Creep home, and take your place there,

The spent and maimed among;

God grant you find one face there,

You loved when all was young." Charles Kingsley 1819-1875

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 17, 2012:

This is such a touching story penned in beautiful poetry. I know that war is hell for those who served and the family suffers too. Thank you for sharing your story with us..Hugs

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on June 17, 2012:

A wonderful, moving poem, and the real life photos really bring it alive. Vincent's praise is fitting. Your father was a part of that greatest generation who sacrificed to fight what may have been the last war that really had to be fought.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on June 17, 2012:

snakeslane. One friendly old bear hug I am sending your way. Your work here is examplary. You bend the pen to your will. The love you show for your Dad, (all your family) actually is true and pure. The events and decisions necessary to win the war can be questioned at this stage but then the dangers were real. Your Father is a hero. You are from a family of heros. Your brother paid the ultimate price.

BeyondMax from Sydney, Australia on June 17, 2012:

Oh my God, this is so emotional! Such a heartfelt, great tribute to your father, it's overwhelming. Amazing pictures, took me on a journey along with your dad, wow!

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on June 17, 2012:

Thank you Vincent, it sounds like we both need a hug right now. This was a tough assignment for me, but I've been dwelling on it so long (since 2004 when the Canadian government sent my Mother a certificate of appreciation for his "exceptional service rendered") and a cheque for $24,000. I had to ask, is this what a life is worth? Been carrying around a lot of bitterness ever since, not knowing what to do with it, so here it is. The photos, yes, I treasure those too. And they were what got me started on this piece.

I'm so sorry you are estranged from the children you love, especially today. Hugs to you, take good care.

Vincent Moore on June 17, 2012:

A sad but wonderful remembrance of a Dad who paid the ultimate price that war awards those unknown. They multiplied their losses by using men to test the harm that chemical warfare would leave embedded in their souls. I admire your loyalty and love you show your dad in other posts you've written about him.

I know how great a daughter you were and the love both of you must have shown. Oh how I wish I had the love of my two daughters, I miss them so. I pray one day they come to me before I lay to rest my weary soul. The love from a daughter is like no other to a daddy who loves them so. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece with us. I loved the old pictures, I could see him clearly. Those old black and whites seem to leave me with that ghostly fond memory of so long ago. Hugs to you my friend.

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