On this hill I am on top of the world
Seeing, hearing and smelling everything.
The flat top of my house only a metre away
I had jumped from the roof to this hill once
Out of madness and stupidity.
Down below I see my uncle chopping wood
Beads of sweat running down his forehead
My grandmother preparing a fresh chicken for dinner.
Here I found solitude
Here I would think about Isaac Newton
The apple falling on his head
Making the discovery of gravity
I would listen intently:
Bees collecting nectar from blossoming flowers
The crickets making their unique sound.
An ant would climb my neck
Sending sensations to the tips of my body.
The nearby forest would be awake
Watching me and protecting me.
Looking back makes me more hesitant
To leave my soul behind
I feel my heart ripping from my chest
Jumping to the place I would lie.
Walking past the tree I carved my name in
Telling me it was time to let go.
* Pupils at Morpeth School (like those of three or four other schools that have sent me poems) have the advantage of attending Arvon courses. The resulting poems are frequently outstanding. Adnan Chowdhury's remarkable poem begins with a cliche, but invests this cliche with meaning and power. There is a striking, authoritative tone here, particularly in lines like, "Out of madness and stupidity". I would generally encourage pupils to be more specific, to avoid unsupported abstractions, but here the lines resonate and convince because of their context, and because of detail such as, "Down below I see my uncle chopping wood". I really like the account of sensations in the lines beginning, "Bees collecting nectar..." I'm not sure whether the poem needs the last line; "Nearly faded" is suggestive, and removing the last line would make it tantalisingly ambiguous.
* On Top of the Hill was a winning poem in the Simon Elvin Young Poet of the Year Awards 1999.
Adnan Chowdhury, aged 14, receives 'Strictly Private', an anthology edited by Roger McGough (Puffin Teenage). Sent by Jane Anderson of Morpeth school, London E2. Cliff Yates is depty head of Maharishi School, Ormskirk, Lancashire, and Poetry Society poet-in-residence for secondary education. He has published 'Jumpstart: poetry in the secondary school' (Poetry Society) and a collection of his own poems, 'Henry's Clock' (SmithDoorstep), winner of the Aldeburgh Festival poetry prize for the best first collection of 1999. Please send poems, preferably not more than 20 lines, to 'The TES', Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 W 1BX, including the poet's name and age, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address . The 'TES Book of Young Poets' (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column with an introduction by Sian Hughes, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99.