Dying leaves by Josie Carter

11th May 2001 at 01:00
Beautiful, golden orange leaves

Glide down to the ground;

Hoping to find a cold dark corner

Where they can silently slumber

As the wind sings them to their rest.

* No one notices the crying leaves

As they are being battered and bruised

By the ungrateful children;

They couldn't care less

As the crunched leaves call to the wind

To carry them to a secret corner

Where they can weep and die

Helplessly.

Josie Carter, 9St Thomas a Becket C of E school, Tilshead, Wiltshire

Josie Carter's lyrical and evocative "Dying Leaves" is a lovely poem. From the word go, Josie has the poet's eye, the eye that sees the unseen details, that champions the un-championed. Here the leaves are the underdog. "Dying Leaves" makes us see autumn differently. Robert Frost said "poetry is a fresh look at old things".

The poem mirrors the action of the leaves falling in the fluid layout, the way that each line does not begin in the same place. The weather in the poem is active; the wind "sings" the leaves to their rest. An interesting verb often makes a poem.

In the second stanza, the leaves are suddenly woken up from their quiet slumber and are crushed by careless children "No one notices", again the poet sees what nobody else sees. The idea of singing and calling is carried through in the second stanza, where the leaves call to the wind, a lovely and clever reversal of the wind singing to the leaves. Coming around again like this, the poem makes us think of the repetition of seasons.

The last line is dramatic and wonderful. The leaves are now fully characterised, weeping and dying - helplessly.

JACKIE KAY

Josie Carter receives The Oldest Girl in the World by Carol Ann Duffy (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Denise Mockford. Jackie Kay is the TES guest poetry critic for this term. Her most recent collection of poetry for children, The Frog who Dreamed She was an Opera Singer, won the Signal Award. A new collection of short stories, Trout Friday, will be published next year by Picador. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email:friday@tes.co.uk The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99) , a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered on 01454 617370. A set of posters costs pound;3.99


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