For Heidi With Blue Hair by Fleur Adcock

When you dyed your hair blue
(or, at least ultramarine
for the clipped sides, with a crest
of jet-black spikes on top)
you were sent home from school

because, as the headmistress put it,
although dyed hair was not
specifically forbidden, yours
was, apart from anything else,
not done in the school colours.

Tears in the kitchen, telephone-calls
to school from your freedom-loving father:
‘She’s not a punk in her behaviour;
it’s just a style.’ (You wiped your eyes,
also not in a school colour.)

‘She discussed it with me first –
we checked the rules.’ ‘And anyway, Dad,
it cost twenty-five dollars.
Tel them it won’t wash out –
not even if I wanted to try.

It would have been unfair to mention
your mother’s death, but that
shimmered behind the arguments.
The school had nothing else against you;
the teachers twittered and gave in.

Next day your black friend had hers done
in grey, white and flaxen yellow –
the school colours precisely:
an act of solidarity, a witty
tease. The battle was already won.

H/t babso1942

In reality the poem is more in line with a young persons version. See: For Heidi With Blue Hair – Fleur Adcock | Flickr – Photo Sharing! But an auld fashioned softy like me simply couldn’t help putting up an image of an absolutely adorable rag doll.

Here’s another lovely image of a young scep-chick called Rebecca who is sporting a very trendy aqua-marine hairstyle. It’s really MOD altogether and goes with her lifestyle.

H/t scep-chick

Have a little read of commentary snippet.

“For Heidi With Blue Hair” is a poem written by Fleur Adcock, during the 1980s. The poem presents the readers with a central image of a child being sent home from school for dye-ing her hair blue. The poem can be seen as one in a narrative form since the poem is being described like a story, with several dialogues used. Using different literary devices and imagery, Adcock manages to transform such a minor event and convey the different issues face in adolescence’s life such as friendship, solidarity, school life, home life, family relationship, independence and the many social boundaries that they are being confronted with. The poem deals with independence and individuality in human beings. The main character- Heidi, in the poem has obviously grown up, and has developed her own thoughts and personality, and this can be seen in the headmistress’s tone, being unused to students dyeing their hair ‘blue’. The poem successfully shows how important relationships between parents and children are, as without her father’s help she would not have achieved her independence. Her father is recognised as a “freedom-loving father”, showing the support he gives to Heidi, which is not very usual among parents. From the poem we can also see Heidi’s strong determination in achieving what she wants, as she is strong minded “Tell them it won’t wash out-not even if I wanted to try”. This shows her courage in standing up to what she believes in, and the courage to strive for what she desires. The poem uses some imagery, and a metaphor is used “shimmered behind the arguments”, demonstrating how they were all aware of the depressing news of her mother’s death, and that it was a major problem that she was going through. Despite this the poet regains Heidi’s justice and strongly states his firm and that by dyeing her hair blue was not to rebel against her mother’s death, “It would have been unfair to mention your mother’s death, but that shimmered behind the arguments.” The poet however, manages to evoke the reader’s feelings, such as to feel what Heidi is going through, having to face her mother’s death, “The school had nothing against you; the teachers twittered and gave in.” From this we can see that the death of her mother may have caused the school to back out of pity, yet the issue…

Fleur Adcock was born of English parents in Papakura, New Zealand, in February 1934. Her family moved back to England, where she spent the war years. Travel was set to become a dominant factor in her life with her childhood years filled, during the war period, with rootless travel that involved changes of school and address.

In 1947 she returned to New Zealand to complete her education and developed a keen interest in poetry. She graduated in Classics from Victoria University of Wellington. She married the poet Alistair Campbell in 1952 and divorced him in 1957. Feeling very smothered while in New Zealand, she left in 1963 to live permanently in England. She has worked as a freelance writer since 1979 and has published many books of poetry. She continues to travel widely.

Her poetry often deals with observations drawn from her travels throughout Ireland, Holland, England and Nepal, and her attempts to find a sense of place and home. She also has produced more intimate works dwelling on social issues, social mores, family, love and sex.

Her poems have no air of stridency: her characteristic tone is restrained, rational, conversational. Adcock herself has talked about this poetic strategy: “The tone I feel at home in is one in which I can address people without embarrassing them; I should like them to relax and listen as if to an intimate conversation”. (‘Not Quite a Statement’, Strong Words, Bloodaxe Books, 2000).


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