Emotion recollected in tranquility

It’s a curious but important thing to do – attending a poetry reading – but it’s something you should do, ideally before you leave school, and keep doing. People are often surprised and delighted by what they find; so it was on Tuesday evening when Douglas Dunn, lured down from St Andrews, read in our theatre. The additional privilege, for me, some fellow teachers and the Poetry Society students, was to meet him and have supper with him beforehand. 

Whether it is Andrew Motion, Robert Robertson, Don Paterson, Kate Bingham or Paul Farley (all visitors over recent years), the experience of sitting quietly and listening to poets reading their poetry reminds us of the need to be open to “emotion recollected in tranquility” or, as Paul Scott put it, “the single emotional spear-point” that poetry provides.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.