The Moon by Elena Lawson

8th June 2001 at 01:00
* The moon is a silvery swan

Gliding gracefully in the waters of the sky

It is a mislaid angel

Fallen from the heavens

* The moon is a snowy white dove

Spying on her prey

The moon is a spinning top

Orbiting round the earth

It is God's peering eye

Checking all is well

* The moon is a pinprick

Darting to and fro

The moon is a slimy snail

All curled up in his shell

It is a magnificent eagle

Perched on clusters of stars

The moon is a light bulb

Flickering on and off

Elena Lawson, 8, Chiswick and Bedford Park preparatory school, Ealing, west London.

This lovely poem (remarkable for any age, never mind eight) teaches us how to find metaphors by looking. Poets have always looked to the moon for an image, even glum Philip Larkin with his debunking "lozenge of love".

In her poem, Elena Lawson finds no fewer than nine images, spins out nine metaphors, as she looks up at the moon. Arranged in three graceful verses of six lines each, the human spirit chimes here with the universe in any original lines. The moon becomes "a mislaid angel fallen from the heavens". We are at the same time understood and consoled in the delicate wisdom of this poem. Each image has an imaginative truth; we can see exactly what Elena Lawson means about the moon.

Jackie Kay

Elena Lawson receives Read Me: A Poem for Every Day of the Year (Macmillan). Her poem was submitted by Christina Hatherall. Jackie Kay is the TES guest poetry critic for the current 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, is due to be published next year by Picador. Please send poems, preferably 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: The TESBook of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered on 0145 617370. A set of posters costs pound;3.99

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