Young poet

5th October 2001 at 01:00
Matthew Walters, 12, Newtown high school, Newtown, Powys

The Day that Changed the World A city tonight lies in tatters, Torn apart by anger and pain.

People in buildings sent crashing to the ground, The damage they could not sustain.

Fifty stars shine down on a country, Destroyed by people who hate.

The world looks on in disbelief, All we can do is wait.

A dented North Tower - surely an accident?

A pilot who had lost his way.

Passengers, Crew and people inside, Left stranded to hope and pray.

But it happened again, and again, and again, And it soon became painfully true.

Lives cut short in such dramatic style, So many destroyed by so few.

Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Sons, Daughters, Husbands, Wives, Ordinary people like you and me, Desperately clinging on to their lives.

Now - Days on - reality dawns, Many people missing - feared dead.

Questions unanswered - only one thing is known, Evil had reared its ugly head.

At times like this, many writers are asking themselves, "How can I write about this?" and answering, "I can't"? We are publishing an extract from a longer poem by Matthew Walters, who has chosen the ballad stanza to help him. The directness of its address, the plain diction, its reliance on the familiar turn of phrase and its historical function to witness the times, show us how the ballad can speak for "people like you and me". Here and there, such as in the second verse, Matthew achieves real memorability, and look how the rhymes, read vertically, tell their own story: "country", "hate", "disbelief", "wait".


Matthew Walters receives Emergency Kit: poems for strange times, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). His poem was submitted by S an Harris. 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. 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: 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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