Poetry readings

There are many students at Bedales who have a love for literature. Not only is there a literary society where groups of English students explore more of their passion for books; the poetry society does exactly that for poems. Usually, concerning the literary society, the members will read the same book and discuss it. A few years ago we read Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman, and then compared our views on the style of writing and the plot in general, over tea and biscuits. 

Last week, I was fortunate enough to join the poetry society for an evening of reading and discussing favourite poets. This was a really great opportunity to continue exploring English outside of the classroom. I read a Wilfred Owen poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, which involves a very graphic description of the physical effects of war, contrasting with the ironic title of the poem, which concludes with ‘pro patria mori.’ Other poems involved Phillip Larkin, where many of us had different views on his writing. Nell Whittaker in 6.2 read his poem The Mower, which differed from his normal complex narrative. After having the British poet laureate winner Carol Ann Duffy come and do a reading at Bedales, many of us engaged with her poetry and this was brought to the society. Her nostalgic poem Premonitions, about the death of her mother, echoed what we had heard recently at the Olivier Theatre. There was a lot of discussion on her original and clever technique on structurally narrating the events of the poem in reverse. I was also going to read her other poem, Mrs Midas, but we ran out of time. I found it fascinating how she could adapt the word ‘gold’ into so many different humorous phrases throughout this poem.

There were a few students who brought poems they had written themselves, George Morony in Block 5 wrote a poem inspired by a horse head he happened to come across on the Thames when going for a walk. Eddie Oliver (6.1), Jess Sankey (6.2), and Abby Sedgley (Block 5) also read their own poems. I thought Jess’s Our Father was very beautiful, being a play on the Lord’s player. It was very cleverly written and yet easily understandable. I found it interesting to see who felt like they should rhyme and who wrote poems sounding more like prose. There also seemed to be a warlike theme surrounding the poetry that night, because of Wilfred Owen and other poems on the Spanish Civil War. We discussed the difference in Wilfred Owen before he went to war and afterwards, and how this affected his poetry. All of the poems were read beautifully and it was a really nice experience to discover new poems, and share work of our own, or from other poets. Not only did this give us the chance to explore more of a range of reading, it inspired me to try and write some poems of my own.

by Sophie Grierson, 6.2


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.

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