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 DAVID HARKINS POETRY
 
    11388 Poems Read.

REMEMBER ME

Do not shed tears when I have gone but smile instead because I have lived. Do not shut your eyes and pray to God that I'll come back but open your eyes and see all that I have left behind. I know your heart will be empty because you cannot see me but still I want you to be full of the love we shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live only for yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of what happened between us yesterday. You can remember me and grieve that I have gone or you can cherish my memory and let it live on. You can cry and lose yourself, become distraught and turn your back on the world or you can do what I want - smile, wipe away the tears, learn to love again and go on.

*I can't go on. I must go on. I'll go on.

                                    
                                              David Harkins 1981

*This line is taken from Samuel Beckett.



Regards the origin of the above poem Remember Me, in September 2002 David Harkins wrote the following -

For her Mother's funeral earlier this year the Queen included as preface for the Order of Service the following anonymous poem -


SHE IS GONE

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

You heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

                                                                                            
In 1980/81 I wrote the following lines of prose. I called the piece Remember Me.

REMEMBER ME

Do not shed tears when I have gone but smile instead because I have lived. Do not shut your eyes and pray to God that I'll come back but open your eyes and see all that I have left behind. I know your heart will be empty because you cannot see me but still I want you to be full of the love we shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live only for yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of what happened between us yesterday. You can remember me and grieve that I have gone or you can cherish my memory and let it live on. You can cry and lose yourself, become distraught and turn your back on the world or you can do what I want - Smile, wipe away the tears, learn to love again and go on.


Underneath Remember Me I frequently included the following line from Samuel Beckett: "I can't go on. I must go on. I'll go on."

In the early eighties I sent Remember Me - along with many other stabs at verse - High On A Hill is another one - to various publishers/poetry magazines, alas to no avail. Spectacularly unsuccessful is the only way to describe my writing.



HIGH ON A HILL

High on a hill when the wind blows
And it's getting colder
High on a hill
In from the night's long tunnel
Two lovers
I can hear them kissing.

                                 David Harkins  1980


I more or less gave up trying to write poetry in 1984. Instead I tried my hand at writing plays. In 1987 I achieved my one and only success: Pam, a one-act play. The play ran for one night in our local community centre in Carlisle. (Currock House Community Centre, August 16th 1987.) Mike Thorburn directed, Anne-Marie Smythe played Pam, I was Ralph. And that was it, really. The very next day I began a new job at Cavaghan & Gray, a chilled food factory in Carlisle. Cavaghan & Gray is where I met, Jayne, my wife. We have been happily married now for 15 years.  Jonathan, who is our wonderful son, is 12 years old. Soon after meeting Jayne I gave up writing altogether - The urge to write just wasn't there anymore.

I was ignorant of just how ?poignant a piece of writing people now regard Remember Me to be, or that people find comfort in the piece, people grief stricken by the loss of a loved one, until the funeral of the Queen Mother. (It was never my intention that my words should bring comfort. Quite the opposite, really. At the time I wished my writing to impress.)

I did not write Remember Me as the result of losing a loved one, however, I just wrote it. (What inspired me to write in the first place, if inspired is the right word, was a girl I knew.)

For what it's worth I believe a copy of Remember Me was lying around in some publishers/poetry magazine office way back, someone picked it up and after reading through the piece found it appropriate for a funeral/message of condolence.

Looking back I cannot say Remember Me - or High On A Hill - for that matter - is/was better or worse then any of my other ones.

My original copies of Remember Me & High On A Hill only survive from 1980/81 to this day because I was in the habit of writing down my poems/short works of prose in volumes of poetry by established poets. This was my way of finding out if a poem I'd written was up to scratch, simply by turning the page I was able to compare work. Mine against theirs, as it were. Alas only the two mentioned works remain, all the others, unfortunately, (or thankfully, depending on your point of view) have long since vanished. High On A Hill is to be found in my copy of Stevie Smith "The Collected Poems," Remember Me in Dylan Thomas's "The Colour of Saying." - Or at least it was until I removed the said page from the "The Colour Of Saying" and sent it, as a gift, to Prince Charles.

I could go on, but I won't....



          ------------------------------------------------



The information below is to be found at www.poeticexpressions.co.uk

Included by the Queen on the order of service for the Queen Mother's funeral on Tuesday 9th April 2002, the poem 'She Is Gone' was credited to 'Anon'.  Her Majesty was said to have encountered the work at the funeral of the late" Dowager Viscountess De L'Isle, whose family had found the poem in a small anthology published in 1999.
After the Queen Mother's funeral much effort went into attempts to identify the author, with attributions going to, among others Immanuel Kant and Joyce Grenfell, before the author was discovered to be former baker David Harkins from Cumbria.  Following the Queen Mother's Funeral both The BBC and The Times contacted  www.poeticexpressions.co.uk but we were unable to help.  We did have the poem of that title on our site as from late 2001, but we had no idea at that time who had written it. We had found the untitled poem on an order of funeral service sheet that a kind friend had sent in.  We titled it 'She is Gone' and we also modified it for a masculine subject 'He is Gone'. As it turns out David Harkins had written the piece in the early eighties, though not as a funeral oration, but in homage to an unrequited love.




David Harkins wrote to The Daily Mail on Tuesday January 14th 2003 as follows:-

I was 23 when I first met Anne LLoyd, my inspiration for the poem I called Remember Me. She was 16 and didn't know me, but had seen her about and knocked on her door one evening in November 1981.  Anne answered, and I introduced myself as a painter (painting was a hobby of mine back then) and asked her to pose. She agreed, and I returned on the Thursday evening, when I made feeble attempts to sketch Anne.  This proved difficult as her mother was present throughout.  Anne posed for me about eight times, and we met regularly for a couple of years and talked a great deal, though we never even kissed, which is probably why I poured all my feelings about her into my poetry. I completed Remember Me in about March 1982, but until last year none of my poems received any recognition.  Pam, a one act play from 1987, was my last piece of work inspired by Anne.  Shortly afterwards I met Jayne, my wife, and I have not seen Anne since.  My writing has dried up and I'm now a painter selling my works on the internet.

David Harkins, Silloth, Cumbria.

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