National Poetry Day

Words and Truth.

In the same week as the launch of ‘The God Who Speaks – A Year of the Word’, the diocesan theme for the coming year, Thursday 3rd October marked National Poetry Day 2019 and, not only that, but the 25th national Poetry Day! The theme of this year’s National Poetry Day was ‘Truth’ and ‘Veritas’ meaning truth is the motto of St Augustine’s Priory.

Many activities took place throughout the school with the Nursery to Upper II dressing up either as a famous poet or in a costume that illustrated a theme, character or symbolism from a poem.

    

  

In addition, Juniors brought in a poem sharing a quotation and hanging the quotation on a leaf to hang on our ‘Poetree of Truth’!

  

The ‘Poetree of Truth’

Meanwhile the Preps and Pre-Preps enjoyed a day of poetry and having fun expanding their vocabularies.  The cloisters are lined with boards where girls have created their own poems from the cut up lines of other poets and writers.

  

  

In addition, Mrs Eaton, Head of English, organised Assembly this week, redolent with truth and poetry, tying the art of poetry with the topic of the environment.  First, the girls considered  a reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10:

‘Behold, to the Lord your God belong

heaven and the heaven of heavens,

the earth with all that is in it.’

Following on from this, a quotation from Pope Francis from his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’’ spoke about our challenge to protect our planet, ‘There is a growing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet…

Our goal is … to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.’

The theme of “truth” came out in the Assembly and Mrs Eaton believes that poetry can be used to convey truths, in this case the truth about climate change.  Some prominent people deny that there is an emergency and are slow in addressing it.  Greta Thunberg is a young girl who is calling these people out and speaking the truth for our pupils’ generation, those who will inherit a climate changed world.  She gave a passionate address to the United Nations climate summit saying, ‘How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough’.

A member of staff wearing ‘Stop all the clocks’ by W H Auden

The Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, composed a poem for the recent launch of the floating laboratory, ‘Sir David Attenborough’.  This is a polar research vessel which will conduct environmental research in the Arctic and Antarctic.  This poem was read out by one of our Seniors, Poppi:

Ark

They sent out a dove: it wobbled home,

wings slicked in a rainbow of oil,

a sprig of tinsel snagged in its beak,

a yard of fishing-line binding its feet.

Bring back, bring back the leaf.

 

They sent out an arctic fox:

it plodded the bays

of the northern fringe

in muddy socks

and a nylon cape.

 

Bring back, bring back the leaf.

Bring back the reed and the reef,

set the ice sheet back on its frozen plinth,

tuck the restless watercourse into its bed,

sit the glacier down on its highland throne,

put the snow cap back on the mountain peak.

 

Let the northern lights be the northern lights

not the alien glow over Glasgow or Leeds.

 

A camel capsized in a tropical flood.

Caimans dozed in Antarctic lakes.

Polymers rolled in the sturgeon’s blood.

Hippos wandered the housing estates.

 

Bring back, bring back the leaf.

Bring back the tusk and the horn

unshorn.

Bring back the fern, the fish, the frond and the fowl,

the golden toad and the pygmy owl,

revisit the scene

where swallowtails fly

through acres of unexhausted sky.

They sent out a boat.

Go little breaker,

splinter the pack-ice and floes, nose

through the rafts and pads

of wrappers and bottles and nurdles and cans,

the bergs and atolls and islands and states

of plastic bags and micro-beads

and the forests of smoke.

Bring back, bring back the leaf,

bring back the river and sea.

 

Simon Armitage

English teacher and poet, Neil Elder, has also written a poem relevant to the theme of the environment which has been shortlisted in the Open Poetry Competition at the Wells Festival of Literature.  His poem ,’When David Attenborough Died’, is one of the poems which will be judged by Simon Armitage with the results announced during the festival later in October.

St Augustine of Hippo, our patron, sums it up:

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it.

God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink.

Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made.

Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”

St Augustine