Shrewsbury School

National Poetry Day prizewinning poems

Wednesday 29 January 2014

To celebrate National Poetry Day on 3rd October 2013, all members of the Third Form entered a Third Form Poetry Competition. Head of English Kristina Leslie also invited poetic submissions from other pupils in the School and from staff and parents. The Competition was judged by Harvard Fellow Rob Lothman, and the winning poems are included below.

Winner of the Lower School Poetry Prize:
Oliver Hodges (S 3)

Oliver HodgesUpon a Cliff
Upon a cliff a man did stand
With sea below a soothing sound,
For times were hard and hope hard found
Life is harsh yet still thou should live.

Below the cliff next to the sea
Gulls did fly and spread their wings,
For you are like a bird yourself.
Go out.  Seize life.  Let your voice be heard.

Under these gulls the waves did form
And many took this easier route,
Yet life is not for coasting along.
Take off and soar to prove them wrong.


Winner of the Sixth Form Poetry Prize:
Olivia Bradley (EDH LVI)

Olivia BradleyTo The Sleeper
Remember that day –
(I can’t recall the month or the year, only
that it was summer
and the sky was too blue and the grass too green
and we shook the still heat with breezes of laughter)
When we ran in the park and imagined
that if we darted out across the water it would hold us like glass
and perhaps if we leapt high enough
we could catch clouds under our feet
and use them as steps to the sun,
our hands open and reaching
to clasp it like a bright fruit
in the silhouette cages of our fingers.

Remember that day –
we fell back to earth, our breath all giggles
and my fingers combed out knots in strands of copper
as I braided sunbeams and marigolds into your hair
and did all I could to weave every colour of the sunset
into a plait
as though someone had gathered up the evening horizon
and twisted it like a wrung cloth.
I murmured fond envy into your ear
and you turned to laugh at me, indulgent,
your cheeks lining like ripples in cream.
Dusk came down like a mist.

Here, I bring you a bouquet of memories.
I will lay them like a golden shawl over your earthy cradle,
that you may look up at them or down at them from wherever you are.
I will scatter the echoes of our laughter over the stone
and sprinkle old sunlight into your grass coverlet.
Take them, and may they sweeten your dreams.


Winner of the Staff Poetry Prize:
Steve Adams (Head of Science)

Steve AdamsAngels
Angels fall from the sky
this cold December day
as tears freeze on my face
and I press my palms to pray
the ground is silver with frost
the air teems with ghosts
my mind sees all the faces
of those I miss the most
but colder and emptier still
the truths reason believes
there is no god or soul
there is no shore to the sea
the sky that arches above
the heart that beats in my chest
the moments of genuine beauty
your perfect loveliness
will crumble to dust in time
will dissolve in the sea and disperse
will spread across infinite distance
lost in the universe
so I press my palms to pray
to a god my reason denies
in the hope that reason is wrong
and angels watch from the sky.


Winner of the Parents' Poetry Prize:
Chris Tay (Head Teacher of Longden CofE Primary School and father of Lettie Tay (MSH LVI))

Chris TayHands
(A memory of my father)
A smack from one of those
Would hurt alright.
Yet he could sew the tiniest of stitches
Like delicate contours of mustard seed,
Shave wood to one sixty-fourth of an inch
And remove splinters from shaking palms
Barely bigger than the plates of his broad thumb nails.
At rest they would hang deflated
Like something monstrous
And later, as the disease progressed,
Like awkward flippers,
Useless throwbacks to a time before tools.

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