For Heidi with Blue Hair
‘For Heidi with Blue Hair’ written by Fleur Adcock was published in 1986. It is a poem that focuses on a conflict between a British school girl, Heidi, and the repressive authority of the school. The name Heidi is not mentioned anywhere in the poem but it is in the title. So we understand Heidi faced the brunt of authoritarian figures in school.
About the Poet
Fleur Adcock is a British poet who was born in New Zealand, studied in London, worked in New Zealand and finally migrated to London to make her name as a poet. Her simplistic style shot her to fame in the literary world. Her editing work has also won her a lot of acclaim. She married Alistair Campbell, a fellow poet in 1952. She became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and was even made an officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 1996.
The poet addresses a person and from the title we know it is Heidi. Heidi was sent back from school because she had coloured her blue and had spiked it too, a punk hairstyle. The headmistress admitted that hair dye was not ‘forbidden’ but Heidi’s colours were she said were not in ‘school colours’. There were no rules against hair colouring but the headmistress and the school did not like it, so she tells that they were not in school colours. So Heidi reached home and cried and her father who was one believed in freedom called the school to make his point. He said she not a ‘punk in her behaviour’ and it was just a hair style. Heidi wiped her eyes, consoled that her father was by her side. Her father continued to speak for Heidi and he told the school that she had discussed the styling with him, the father. In between Heidi pitched in. She said
And anyway, Dad,
It cost twenty-five dollar
Tell them it won’t wash out-
not even if I wanted to try.
Heidi had lost her mother but her father did not want to say it but that fact was ‘behind the arguments’. The school had nothing much against Heidi and they ‘gave in’. Next day her ‘black friend’ to show solidarity with Heidi coloured her hair too but they were in school colours. ‘The battle was already won’ because now there was nothing the school could do.
The poem ‘For Heidi with Blue Hair’ is written in free verse. There are 30 lines split into six stanzas. It does not have a rhyme scheme or a set meter. Its lines are more or less of the same length, six syllables a piece. The tone of the poem is very simple, straightforward and conversational and the free verse suits the tone. Most of the lines use enjambment, where the thought started in one line is carried over to the next line. The fifth line of the first stanza spills over to the next stanza too.
Alliteration, repetition of words starting with the same letter in a line, is seen in the poem.
clipped sides, with a crest
the teachers twittered
The word ‘crest’ is a metaphor. Heidi’s hair is compared to the peaks of the mountain or it could mean tuft of feathers too. Through the eyes of the child Fleur Adcock brings out the theme of rebellion, control, grief and solidarity.