Biographical Poetry posted March 31, 2024

This work has reached the exceptional level
A true story

Sybil and the Easter Egg

by Debbie D'Arcy

A gift, so prized at nine years old,
endorsed with uncle's plea -
to savour it like choc'late gold,
enjoy, but sparingly.
For this was nineteen thirty-nine,
with war clouds looming fast
and sweet delights would soon decline -
her Easter egg must last!
But, undeterred, she glowed with pride,
this treasure was a dream,
with garden scene and doll inside
in 'Mary, Mary' theme.
Amid that dark and rationed war,
temptation shone its light
but, stoic'lly, with grit in store,
she took not one sole bite.
Then, kept as new as decades flew,
this precious, guarded pelf* -
a souvenir in white and blue
still graced her bedroom shelf.
Outliving her with tale to tell,
its message soundly rings:
against the hardship that befell,
her joy in little things.
An auction sale would seal its fate
and, this month, it was sold.
But tasty treat? Maybe too late,
at eighty-five years old!


Image: courtesy of Google free pics; information source: internet news reports.
*pelf - booty, wealth, treasure

Stanza 1-2: In 1939 Sybil Cook, aged 9 years, from Neath, South Wales, UK was given a chocolate Easter egg by her uncle with the caveat to savour every morsel. War was looming and he explained that foods like this would be in short supply. In fact, food rationing lasted for 14 years in Britain from 1940 until 1954 - nearly 10 years after the war ended. In 1946, when food was just as short as during preceding years, bread was added to the ration and the sweet ration was halved.

Stanza 3-4: But, instead of taking a single bite, she treasured her Mary, Mary Quite Contrary egg for the entire duration of the war, such was her respectful obedience to her elders.

Stanza 5: Having kept it that long, she continued to guard it for the rest of her life and it remained in her bedroom and then her daughter's bedroom when she went into a residential home. The box which is complete with a decorative garden scene of a little girl with a watering can, still has her name on it, written in pencil and the year 1939.

Stanza 6: In 2021, Sybil died at the age of 91. Though she loved chocolate, she never allowed herself even the slightest nibble of her precious egg (although, at one stage, she scratched the blue and white foil to check that there was chocolate behind it!) She came from a generation that understood hardship and learned to cherish and appreciate the smallest things. She did, however, claim that chocolate is "the best medicine of all." (perhaps evidenced by her longevity).

Stanza 7: Although its best before date was long gone, its commercial value, memories and nostalgia live on. Despite an estimate of between 300 and 500 pounds, the egg sold at auction on 19 March 2024 for 200 pounds.
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