Postage Stamp: Poem by William Hart-Smith

On Canberra buses in the 90s they had poems displayed, maybe they still do. It really made the journey so enjoyable. One poem I remember was called ‘Postage Stamp’, written by William Hart-Smith. This poem is such good advice for someone going through a separation.

If you should ever have to part from someone dear,
tear yourself away.
Be sure the tear is where the perforations are.
Please, please do not ever recklessly sever,
shear yourself from some one other
so that their stamp is torn
and you have part of their living,
bleeding flesh at your side worn.

From Selected Poems 1936-84 Angus and Robertson



26 thoughts on “Postage Stamp: Poem by William Hart-Smith

  1. bkpyett Post author

    I agree! I guess at the time I read that poem I had separated from my second husband… So it was particularly pertinent. Now you have the words, you’ll be more careful to stick to the perforations ? I hope so.
    Perhaps you’ll be lucky like me to find the right partner, even better! 🙂


      1. TechHeadFred

        I honestly don’t know, as I haven’t caught buses regularly in about 10 years. They weren’t doing the “Poetry in ACTION” thing any more by that stage.


      2. TechHeadFred

        It was somewhat inspiring in my youth. Canberra used to be more obviously artistic back then.

        I honestly can’t say I haven’t made the mistake in this poem many times over though!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. hilarycustancegreen

    The Angus and Robertson poem is blindingly true. I used to work as an experimental psychologist. We’d do all sorts of (mostly technical) tests on fit, healthy people. After the tests, in the quiet of what was often a soundproof room, I would explain what bit of memory or vision we had been researching. Then, so often, they would tell me about something really difficult in their lives. In most cases you would never have known they had a care in the world. I remember this whenever I am foolish enough to think this or that person has it easy.


    1. bkpyett Post author

      Lovely to hear from you Hilary. This poem really moved me at the time and still does.
      It’s interesting to hear of your experience, so many hidden broken lives out there!


  3. joannesisco

    Ouch – that is very powerful imagery. I might be reading more into this than intended, but I think it helps explain why some people are able to move on while others seemed burdened by the past.

    I too love the idea of poems incorporated into places where people have to simply sit and wait, like on buses. It’s so much more uplifting than the ubiquitous ads plastered everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. y. prior

      and I came here from wordsgood’s reblog and whew – give it two thumbs up – and it is one of the best poems I have read in a while – so profound and spot on – thanks Pyett and thanks wordsgood- 🙂


      1. prior

        well I also think we do not talk enough about partings – but many times they are needed – many times they are just the right thing for health or life – and of course there are times when partings may be forced – but either way – this captured the beautiful way pieces of someone can remain “at your side worn” – and there is likely so much more that I cannot articulate (or even see!)- and now I wonder what other rich poems you have lurking in that scrapbook….


      2. bkpyett Post author

        Thank you so much for your welcome comment. I agree with you, there’s so much I could say. you have prompted me to take another look in my scrap book…. Thank you! 🙂


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