Every day we cast ourselves into the future, imagining what’s next in our lives. For many of us, the future represents opportunity and gives us hope that we can make positive change for our loved ones, our communities or ourselves.
Warm up exercise: How do you define the future?
If you look up the word future, you’ll find this definition:
- (noun) a period of times following the moment of speaking or writing; time regarded as still to come
- (adjective) at a later time, going or likely to happen or exist
Spend a few minutes thinking about how you define the future. Consider the following questions:
- how far away is the future? Does the future start right away, or after a period of time? When someone says, ‘In future I will...’ when do you imagine?
- when you say ‘in the future’, do you think something is likely to happen? Is it a hope, a dream or an intention you’re sharing?
Why not write your own definition of future?
Brainstorm: at eighty
“Who says we cannot guide ourselves?” - Edwin Morgan
Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper.
On one side, write about what your future goals were as a child or young person. What did you want, hope for and aspire to?
On the other side of the line, write what your goals might be in the future. How do you think your hopes and dreams will change as you grow older?
Read Edwin Morgan’s “At Eighty” and consider the questions below:
- What do you think of the speaker?
- Do you agree with the sentiments expressed?
- Does the narrator remind you of anyone, or do you know anyone who feels opposite to this poem?
- Do you agree that “unknown is best”?
- What, to you, is the “last passage of blue water”?
- Imagine yourself writing this poem, would you say the same things?
At Eighty (Edwin Morgan)
Push the boat out, compañeros,
Push the boat out, whatever the sea.
Who says we cannot guide ourselves
through the boiling reefs, black as they are,
the enemy of us all makes sure of it!
Mariners, keep good watch always
for that last passage of blue water
we have heard of and long to reach
(no matter if we cannot, no matter!)
in our eighty-year-old timbers
leaky and patched as they are but sweet,
well seasoned with the scent of woods
long perished, serviceable still
in unarrested pungency
of salt and blistering sunlight. Out,
push it all out into the unknown!
Unknown is best, it beckons best,
like distant ships in mist, or bells
clanging ruthless from stormy buoys.
- Write about a time when you thought something would happen ‘in future’ but happened sooner or later than expected
- Write a poem or a few paragraphs in your own voice at 80 or older. What advice do you think you’ll give?
- Use his first line either as it stands “Push the boat out”, or invert it with “Don’t push the boat out” and write a poem giving advice to a younger version of yourself.
- Consider your own definition of future and your future goals, then start a piece with Morgan’s words
The last passage of blue water…
In our eighty-year-old timbers….
Who says we cannot guide ourselves….