Celebration of Art & Literature
– Greg Whitfield
– Mrs Y. Allen
Here you can read the poems or view the pictures from Sir Thomas Boughey’s Literacy Evening.
- A Poison Tree – By William Blake
- Blackberry Picking – By Seamus Heaney
- But You Didn’t – By Merrill Glass
- Conkering – By Ben Green
- Conkering – By Sam Leigh
- Death Of A Naturalist – By Seamus Heaney
- Follower – By Seamus Heaney
- Conkering – By Grant Wardle
- Harrybo – By Michael Rosen
- Joining the Colours – By Katherine Tynan Hinkson
- Mother, any distance greater than a single span – By Simon Armitage
- My Grandmother – By Elizabeth Jennings
- The Convergence of the Twain – By Simon Armitage
- The Road Not Taken – By Robert Frost
- The Veteran – By Margaret Postgate Cole
- Valentine – By Carol Ann Duffy
- Free Sky – By Jessica Crabtree
- The Dark Truth – By Courteney Garsden
- A wasted life – By Lucy Harvey
- Starvation – By Hannah Brown
- Goodbye – By Amy Hammond
- O Captain – By Walt Whitman
A Poison Tree – By William Blake
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,
And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Blackberry Picking – By Seamus Heaney
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
But You Didn’t – By Merrill Glass
Remember the time you lent me your car and I dented it?
I thought you’d kill me…
but you didn’t.
Remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal
and you came in jeans?
I thought you’d hate me…
But you didn’t
Remember the times I’d flirt with other boys
just to make you jealous, and you were?
I thought you’d drop me…
But you didn’t.
There were plenty of things you did to put up with me,
to keep me happy, to love me and there are so many things
I wanted to tell you when you returned from Vietnam…
But you didn’t.
Conkering – By Ben Green
When I went conkering, I can remember,
I went down to the park near my house
And saw all of the other children playing, saw them
Dancing like it was a form of tribal celebration.
But I didn’t join in, as I had
My own mission, my own reason
To be there. The Horse Chestnut tree gleamed at me
Like a beacon, the sticks I threw were light
As a feather, and the bounty was plentiful.
A rain of spikes, green and brown
Fell around my feet, and I felt
Protected from the world.
But now the stick is hefty, throwing it
Is a cumbersome task. It gets wedged
Between the branches of the tree.
Nothing had fallen back down to me.
The streets are grey and the pavements are drenched
In the sadness of the skies.
We’re not what we used to be.
The tree and I, two different specimens
Trapped in the same body.
We can only dream for tomorrow, and when it arrives,
We reminisce over yesterday.
We’re not what we used to be.
Not at all.
Conkering – By Sam Leigh
Autumn. Trees release their long carried burden of leaves
Like the fallout of nature’s eruptions, blanketing the
Cracked, harsh ground with patches of brown and
Aged orange foliage. Among the quilt of darkened
Leaves lays the occasional glimmer, a shine of
Mahogany brown that captivates passers-by
With its glow, giving off the urge to be collected.
An urge impossible to resist, especially for the
Eager mind of a young child.
Pockets stuffed with autumn’s treasure,
Young boys rush homewards to drill and
Thread and cherish as prize winning possessions
Which conquers each challenger and smashes with mahogany malice.
On the schoolyard, children battle
With and against their prized possessions.
Threads of string swing, like the pendulum of their childhood,
Clumsy fingers willing them forward with no
Particular purpose, only the will to conquer.
As the months come past, and time rolls on
The love and value that was once held for
This small gift of nature decays and is replaced
With the new found memories and new found joys
Of Christmas day.
At the bottom of drawers they remain,
Only to be used so soon again
Once spring blows past and summer desists
We are left, the conker and I, to reminisce.
Death Of A Naturalist – By Seamus Heaney
All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window-sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst into nimble-
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked
On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.
Follower – By Seamus Heaney
My father worked with horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horses strained at his clicking tongue.
An expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The soil rolled over without breaking.
At the headrig, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land. His eye
Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.
I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.
I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.
Conkering – By Grant Wardle
That time of year again, children gather around the chestnut tree,
Fresh faced, eager, hopeful and keen to become this year’s champion,
Scanning the floor for a kind of treasure, not this year though, not for me,
Many sighs and many cheers, for the children that were successful on their quest,
But me, I was waiting, waiting for a challenge, because I know I had the best,
Watching but not joining,
Staying in the shadows of the bushes, where I could see them, but them not see me,
Flicking between the other children and where their ammunition was heading,
Hitting a top branch but slowly cascading like a waterfall, crashing into branches and loosening the branch of it treasure,
A few lucky shots were thrown, spiky bomb-like things fell, racing to the ground,
Some cracked open upon impact, some needed brute force to reveal the hidden golden brown prize that lay beneath the spikey shell,
But not this year, not for me,
I was still waiting, waiting for another challenger to fall to their knees,
Knowing, mine was the best.
Harrybo – By Michael Rosen
Once my friend Harrybo
came to school crying.
What’s the matter?
What’s the matter?
And he said
his granddad had died.
So we didn’t know what to say.
Then I said:
How did he die?
And he said:
He was standing on St Pancras station
waiting for the train
And he just fell over and died.
Then he started crying again.
He was a nice man
He had a shed with tins full of screws in it.
my gran was nice too
she gave me and my brother
a red shoe horn each.
Maybe Harrybo’s granddad gave
Harrybo a red shoehorn.
My hamster died as well.
So everyone said:
And Dave said:
I was only saying.
And I said:
My gran gave me a red shoehorn.
I got a pair of trainers for Christmas.
And Harrybo said:
You can get ones without laces.
And we all said:
Yeah, that’s right, Harrybo, you can.
Any other day,
Of course you can, we know that,
But that day
Yeah, that’s right, Harrybo, yeah, you can.
Joining the Colours – By Katherine Tynan Hinkson
(West Kents, Dublin, August 1914)
There they go marching all in step so gay!
Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
The mothers’ sons.
The drab street stares to see them row on row
On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
Into the dark.
With tin whistles, mouth-organs, any noise,
They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
Love cannot save.
High heart! High courage! The poor girls they kissed
Run with them: they shall kiss no more, alas!
Out of the mist they stepped – into the mist
Singing they pass.
Mother, any distance greater than a single span- By Simon Armitage
Mother, any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands.
You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors,
the acres of walls, the prairies of the floors.
You at the zero-end, me with the spool of tape, recording
length, reporting metres, centimetres back to base, then leaving
up the stairs, the line still feeding out, unreeling
years between us. Anchor. Kite.
I space-walk through the empty bedrooms, climb
the ladder to the loft, to breaking point, where something has to give;
two floors below your fingertips still pinch
the last one-hundredth of an inch… I reach
towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
to fall or fly.
My Grandmother – By Elizabeth Jennings
She kept an antique shop – or it kept her.
Among the Apostle spoons and Bristol glass,
The faded silks, the heavy furniture,
She watched her own reflection in the brass
Salvers and silver bowls, as if to prove
Polish was all, there was no need of love.
And I remember how I once refused
To go out with her, since I was afraid.
It was perhaps a wish not to be used
Like antique objects. Though she never said
That she was hurt, I still could feel the guilt
Of that refusal, guessing how she felt.
Later, too frail to keep a shop, she put
All her best things in one long narrow room.
The place smelt old, of things too long kept shut,
The smell of absences where shadows come
That can’t be polished. There was nothing then
To give her own reflection back again.
And when she died I felt no grief at all,
Only the guilt of what I once refused.
I walked into her room among the tall
Sideboards and cupboards – things she never used
But needed: and no finger-marks were there,
Only the new dust falling through the air.
The Convergence of the Twain – By Simon Armitage
Here is an architecture of air.
Where dust has cleared,
nothing stands but free sky, unlimited and sheer.
Smoke’s dark bruise
has paled, soothed
by wind, dabbed at and eased by rain, exposing the wound.
Over the spoil of junk,
rescuers prod and pick,
shout into tangled holes. What answers back is aftershock.
All land lines are down.
Reports of mobile phones
are false. One half-excoriated Apple Mac still quotes the Dow Jones.
Shop windows are papered
with faces of the disappeared.
As if they might walk from the ruins – chosen, spared.
With hindsight now we track
the vapour-trail of each flight-path
arcing through blue morning, like a curved thought.
And in retrospect plot
the weird prospect
of a passenger plane beading an office-block.
But long before that dawn,
with those towers drawing
in worth and name to their full height, an opposite was forming,
still years and miles off,
yet moving headlong forwards, locked on a collision course.
Then time and space
contracted, so whatever distance
held those worlds apart thinned to an instant.
During which, cameras framed
moments of grace
before the furious contact wherein earth and heaven fused.
The Road Not Taken – By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Veteran – By Margaret Postgate Cole
We came upon him sitting in the sun
Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
There came young soldiers from the Hand and Flower,
Asking advice of his experience.
And he said this, and that, and told them tales,
And all the nightmares of each empty head
Blew into air; then, hearing us beside,
“Poor chaps, how’d they know what it’s like?” he said.
And we stood there, and watched him as he sat,
Turning his sockets where they went away,
Until it came to one of us to ask “And you’re-how old?”
“Nineteen, the third of May.
Valentine – By Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
Free Sky – By Jessica Crabtree
These jewel eyes saw nothing as golden as the autumn
Golden as the sun, as bright as the sky.
Thousands of people, people so wise.
As wise as an elephant, wild and free.
Cold is nothing, nothing these days.
Days of happiness, happiness in life
Glance at a spirit, spirit so free.
Free from trouble, no trouble to see.
Now it’s time to carry on, until the day we meet again.
Goodbye for now, as now we fly,
Free to an open sky.
The Dark Truth – By Courteney Garsden
You beat your pet black and blue,
then you deny it’s all true.
He sits outside in the pouring rain,
and you don’t care if he’s going insane.
He, was made for you to love and care for,
and yet you hate him and beat him more.
He sits around thinking of a way to become free,
but your face blocks his thoughts so he can’t see.
For him it’s excruciating, tedious and tender,
I hope one day that you will surrender.
Tell the world you’re appalling, repulsive and cruel,
and one day you will be in the cells eating gruel.
A wasted life – By Lucy Harvey
Innocent and faithful was that young man,
just a walk over the road; he was gone,
run over and stabbed in pure daylight.
The police wouldn’t be needing searchlights,
standing there with blood on his hands,
not understanding why we didn’t understand,
fighting for your country is brave,
dyeing for your country is terrifying.
When he stepped out of his barracks,
never would he thought what would happen,
to him… a soldier.
His son not being able to know when he gets older,
sickening, disgusting, pointless.
The words keep rolling,
the world keeps spinning,
just another wasted life of a brave, proud and respectful soldier.
Starvation – By Hannah Brown
It was all fine
until mummy married… him.
He strided in,
like he owned everything.
He turned mummy against me.
She hated me forever after that.
In that first week || everything changed.
He started this, he started my starvation!
My saviours killing me,
my death would be his bliss,
mummy is supposed to stop him,
she’s not supposed to help… that man.
This man has no name,
not to my recollection,
I know him as ‘The Devil’,
the name speaks for itself.
I’m not going to tell you how much
pain and suffering that I am in.
Only because that would
you feel sorry for me.
I do not want that.
I want the Devil to be caught,
to be punished for his crimes.
I want my mummy back!
Goodbye – By Amy Hammond
Our time together went so fast,
but now my life’s going so slow.
Your eyes were full off dark,
but then you entered the light.
You rest in Eastbourne but your soul rests in me.
You were a perfect Grandad.
Every year I come to visit you but to me that’s not enough.
You used to always glow but then you started to dim.
Your cancer took over you like the clouds going in front of the sun on a summers day.
One angel will look over me…
That angel is you.
O Captain – By Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
while follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
where on the deck my Captain lies,
fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up – for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
This is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, come in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
walk the dead my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.