Young poet

14th September 2001 at 01:00
Abigail Brown, 8, Aldbury primary school, Tring, Herts

The Swing

My stomach lurches as I fly

up into the air.

The wind blows on my cheeks,

throwing my rat-tails out of my face.

Suddenly I'm in a whole new world.

The sounds of traffic, shouting,

screaming and laughing fade away

and the only noises are the wind,

the creaking of the swing

and the birds singing.

I'm in a dream,

running away from the world I was born in.

Then Earth takes revenge

and I am thrown back to the ground,

the wind blowing my hair back

into its straggly places across my face.

My mind comes home from holiday

and I am put into my miserable dreary life.

Still, I shall never forget the thrill, the excitement

of the world of the swing!

The lyric, it's been said, is an extended exclamation - an Ooh, an Aah, an Oh of ecstasy or despair. Abigail's poem has all the extended rush of the swing in it, the whoosh and gasp, the rush of the wind and then the stilled, almost slow-motion suspension in air. What a wonderful music she creates: the pendulous end sounds in wind, swing, singing, born in; the unbroken syntax in the stepped sentence beginning "The sounds of traffic..."; and the fast runaway line "running away from the world I was born in", following the short line "I'm in a dream" - like the few earthed paces a long-jump needs before the hurl and running through air.

This poem enacts marvellously, in its rhythms and elan, the action of the swing, the motion in the heart and senses and even of the receding and returning earth. Sound and sense are one. Rhymes tumble into the middle and end of lines. And the voice takes its run at the experience and lets everything fall naturally into place.

Abigail Brown receives The Oldest Girl in the World by Carol Ann Duffy (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Doreen Meek. Mimi Khalvati is TES guest poet for the autumn term. She has published five collections of poetry, including her Selected Poems, published by Carcanet in 2001. A new book, The Chine, is due in January next year. She is the founder-director of The Poetry School in London. 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:

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