Young poet

21st January 2000 at 00:00
* It was fairly large I tell you

With a golden beak and neck

Swish swish was the sound

Of its burning wings of flame and fire

It was the mysterious eagle of the East

* Its eyes were glistening silver

Its wisdom was very great

I rubbed my hands with glee

And said, "This bird will make my fortune."

I swung my sword, I swung my sword

* As it flew away,

The rainbow colours of its feathers

Glided swiftly through the air

And dodged my silver sword.

* And as it did so it said

"Be gone, be gone"

And so I walked away;

And so this story comes to an end.

William Bott, aged 9, Virgo Fidelis prep school, south London

I expect William Bott gets tired of people saying, "That's amazing at your age," but I suppose he takes it in his stride. Anyway (sorry!), it is amazing; only the word "glee" gives away he's not in the sixth form, though maybe the daring of the poem does too, the confidence to tackle such a subject. The poem is a fable, with the moral in the second stanza, where the narrator slashes at the bird (wisdom) for personalgain; but it's the working-out of the consequences which makes the poem more than the sum of its parts.

I like the tone of the poem, that mix of poise and exuberance. I also like the way the poem starts as if mid-way in, and how by the end it accepts that what began as an eye-witness account is actually a story. Except by then we feel that it's the eagle that really exists and the narrator's everyday life is, well, just a story - one that, without the eagle (which has banished him), might just as well come to an end. I expect William gets tired of people saying he'll go far - I only hope that, among other things, it's in poetry. Go, William, go!

Peter Sansom

William Bott receives This Poem Doesn't Rhyme edited by Gerard Benson (Puffin). His poem was submitted by teacher Susan Ryan. Peter Sansom has published the handbook, Writing Poems with Bloodaxe. His third Carcanet collection, partly about his Poetry Society Marks and Spencer residency, is published this year. Please send poems, not more than 20 lines, to Young Poet, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX.


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