Young poet

16th March 2001 at 00:00
Emily Ham, nine, Cwmdu school, Crickhowell, Powys


Take the soul of the moon

Take the essence of a voice

Whirl them through the caverns of space

To make the wolf's mournful howl.

The face shows betrayal...

The deep gold eyes

That stare through the darkness

To discover night's secrets

Look away from man with fear.

The ears are alert to hear

The pitter patter of snow

Above the roar of a waterfall.

A nose that twitches

As the scent of pine needles is disturbed.

White fangs are bared - and men are scared

By wolf's power.

Yet it does not want war,

Let the wolf live in peace, for evermore.

There's a wonderful, expansive energy to Emily's poem which conjures the wolf before our very eyes from elements of the universe itself. This mythical creature's history reaches back beyond ours to the origins of time. But the wolf brings with it an ancient sorrow: man and persecution.

This almost abstract, visionary wolf is then re-defined through its physical presence - its eyes, ears, paws, nose and fangs. I love the "pitter patter" of snow which suggests the swirl of flakes and the movement of the wolf's paws through the forest.

Yet the technique of the poem rescues it from mere polemic. It moves with surety through rhymes which balance briefly then slink on like the movement of the wolf itself. The poem invokes and embodies its subject matter, showing us a glimpse of life pushed to the far edge of our world.


Emily Ham receives The Puffin Book of 20th Century Children's Verse, edited by Brian Patten. Her poem was submitted by Mrs Wormleighton. Graham Mort, a freelance writer and tutor, is TES guest poet for this term. His latest collection, Circular Breathing (Dangaroo Press), is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, The TES, 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 TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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