By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English
This half term Block 3 have been using their English composition lessons to read and write poetry about nature and the seasons. Naturally, John Keats’ To Autumn proved an inspiration for many with phrases that everyone half knows, even if only from the Mr Kipling advert! We’ve also read Seamus Heaney’s Personal Helicon,in which he muses on the way that nature creates and reflects artistic inspiration and helps us to know ourselves better.
Our local favourite is Edward Thomas, who many Block 3 students know from visits to The Poet’s Stone – a hop, skip, and very steep trek up Shoulder of Mutton Hill. The poems But these things also and The penny whistle evoke the landscape around Bedales and students gained a clearer insight into the subtlety of nature writing from the detailed imagery Thomas uses.
I’ve been really impressed with the poems that the Block 3 students wrote in response. You can read a selection below:
Autumn is the soft dying days when the light fades into mysterious night;
Autumn is the cold seeping into your cheeks making them go a rosy pink;
Autumn is the sharpness of the cold in your lungs and the chilly nip of the crisp air;
Autumn is the cosy afternoons by the fire and the musty November smell;
Autumn is the silence in the sky;
Autumn is the path from summer and the bridge to winter.
The autumn came that year, too fast, too soon.
The rolling winds whipped in from the west.
And all that was in light, shadow overtook.
The late summer fruits lay rotting in the fields,
As if summer itself had forgotten them.
More harvests failed with every looming day,
As the thunderclouds crowded low, drenching the ground.
Where there should have been leaves, golden and red,
There was the black rot of decay.
Where the autumn grass once would have lain,
Bear rock, earth and mud had overtaken.
Standing tall, silent, sturdy,
They loom above you,
The pines are straight and thin,
They have stood for tens, hundreds of years.
Needles drop, crunch underfoot and rot,
Branches fall only to be replaced many years later,
Squirrels hop from tree to tree, escaping from some unknown.
Winter is coming
Winter is coming thick and fast
The earth is getting hard and frosty
The sun has hidden behind a cloud
And you may be thinking what is happening
And I tell you Winter is coming
It doesn’t matter what you think
It doesn’t matter what you do
Winter is always coming.
When the leave stand strong
Then Winter is just around the bend.
When the hedgehogs are curled up in their dens
And the rivers are freezing up
The wind blows hard on my face
And I know Winter is coming.
The trees shiver naked in the blowing wind,
The cool rush of a fresh breeze,
Leaves scattered across the floor,
With little wellies splashing
The winter bounds stick to the paths
With the mud rushing on
Nowhere is safe from the weather
Not even the warmth.