Poems were the weapon of choice when pupils from Dorset House School in Bury, between Pulborough and Arundel, met to battle it out on stage.
Recite’ – a poetry competition which is held once a year – involves every pupil in school from Year 3 upwards learning a poem by heart.
Heats are held and the winners go forward to the final competition. This year’s external judges were Dr Elizabeth Keane from Lancing College and Father David Twinley, our local vicar and Head of Religious Studies at Dorset House. The competition in the individual sections was fierce with poems by poets as diverse as Ogden Nash, Siegfried Sassoon and Philip Larkin being recited.
Winner of the Junior section, Rose Moncrieffe (8), said that learning her poem ’Counting’ by Michael Rosen, which is about the unnumbered civilian casualties of war, had helped her to think about how people in other countries, where there is conflict, might feel.
The second half of the afternoon saw whole classes compete against each other in a less serious fashion. Costumes were donned and drama skills brought into play – with perhaps the most unusual offering being a rap of Longfellow’s famous poem ‘Excelsior!’
As always, a good time was had by all – but the very serious intent behind the competition is that pupils develop an understanding and love of poetry that will stay with them for life. As Salman Rushdie said, ‘A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.’ As Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously said, poetry is, ‘the best words in the best order.’
This Saturday, 7th March, visitors are welcome to attend our spring Open Morning which runs from 9.30am to 12 noon. All areas of the school will be on view including our new Nursery. There will also be a Senior Schools’ Forum (from 10.30am) where Heads and Deputies from Benenden, Brighton, Charterhouse, Hurst and Roedean will discuss the many points to consider when choosing an independent senior school. Please call Sarah O’Brien for further details (01798 831456)
Report and pictures contributed by Dorset House School.