That lovely late-season annual event, Voices of Poetry, took place on Sunday evening in the Big Schoolroom. It is a fine pause in the maelstrom of the ending of the school year, just before examinations start: listening to great verse in many languages is balm for the soul.
Again Mr Swift co-ordinated with his characteristic skill and lightness of touch. Helen Crampton started with a reading of the first poem she had learned as a child, Wordsworth’s ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud‘ (aka ‘Daffodils’), followed by Mr Finn’s strong recital of D.H. Lawrence’s evocative ‘Piano‘ (‘Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me’). He was followed by Iona Chavasse’s ‘Wild Like the Sea That Raised Her’, composed in the Poetry Slam in March, a haunting incantatory piece.
Then it was on to other languages, including Spanish (Anna Laurenceau with Neruda), French (David White with Baudelaire), Sicilian dialect (for the first time, from Ms Pirrone), Latin (Tania Stokes with Horace), Turkish (Liz Kolat), Mexican dialect (Camilla Garcia), Ukrainian (Dmytro Kasienenko), Dutch (Cato Oldenburg), German (Tatiana Hopkins), Igbo (Sarah Maduwuba), Irish (Naoise Murray), Cantonese (Sinéad Cleary) and Mandarin (Zong Yuan Kou).
In English we also heard Stella Jacobs with Whitman’s ‘O Captain, My Captain!’ and Ms Morley with Liz Lochhead’s thought-provoking ‘The Choosing‘. The Warden recited Newbolt’s ‘Vitaï Lampada’, and Mr Swift paid tribute to his late brother in his reading of John Updike’s ‘Perfection Wasted’ (here read by Garrison Keillor). Senior Prefect Harry Oke-Osanyintolu gave us Brendan Kennelly’s optimistic ‘Begin’ from the Leaving Certificate poetry course.
Two highlights were readings by this year’s winners of the poetry prizes, Emma Hinde (junior, with ‘Tree-maker‘) and Tania Stokes (senior, with her sonnet ‘Seeing Tunnels‘).
No better way to finish it all off than with William Carlos Williams’s ‘This Is Just to Say’, read by Daniel Murray: