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Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Future's Bright

Three years ago they told me
‘the future’s guaranteed’,
three years of study was their mantra,
work and riches was their creed.

Three years later on the scrap heap,
a hundred letters sent –
I am your lost generation,
scourge of Europe’s parliament.

My God – what next – a Master’s
of frustration or a Doctor of despair?
Not a Euro for electric, food, clothes, rent –
you can forget about my hair!

You’ll find a job, they tell me,
you're young, literate, highly skilled;
but I’m their lost generation –
out-of-workers, unfulfilled.

I’m not so proud – I’ll sell my
writing, one-fifty Euros for my brain.
I’ll stack shelves in any country,
I don’t want to be a drain

and my family will support me –
we're resilient and close knit.
I turn my back upon your hand-outs
don't want a penny from your State.

So tell me, what’s your future,
is this your Baby Boomers’ dream?
All I see is desperation
whilst the Capitalists get the cream.

This is not my adventure –
wasted youth and forced exile –
I guess I’ll give up
looking, join Europe’s ever-growing pile.

© Carolyn Cornthwaite

Young, qualified and jobless: plight of Europe's best-educated generation

Carolyn writes poetry, flash fiction, short stories and has almost completed the first draft of a novel. She dreams of Booker prizes and a life in France and blogs at wimpywriter.com


  1. As I read this, I feel the absolute despair in these lines..such a waste of talent,of possibilities while Europe congeals in its old ways...
    A fine poem articulating the hopelessness of a generation...

  2. Disturbing, but excellent. Can feel the desperation seeping out of every line.

  3. Well done, the voice of a generation. In the words of the Peter Gabriel song (and the duet with Kate Bush is at the URL I append) - "Don't give up."


  4. A good and resonant rant, Carolyn.
    We can blame capitalism, the economy, Europe's paralysis, the politicians et al.
    I can understand the growing frustration of the young when not even a degree can get one a job stacking shelves.
    It doesn't take a genius to work out that by increasing the retirement age there is less scope for the younger generation to find work.

  5. Thank you everyone for your comments and sorry for the late reply, I have been 'without computer' for several days but all appears mended now. Barbara and Simon, yet another article (today's Observer) reinforces that desperation, I think Greece and Spain have 60% and 50% youth unemployment and reading the interviews is very disturbing. Mistah you are right - we mustn't give up and that, too, comes out when you listen to these young people who, despite the statistics keep trying. I agree Luigi, it's a tough one - and yet I know several people over 65 (and over 70) who continue to work not because of the raising of the retirement age but because their minds and bodies are still young and active. Life is changing so much and there aren't the jobs to support everyone.