Autumn Poetry Competition 2019
Winning Poem for School Years 7-10
Angelica Jane Bosco - 'When Dogs Whimper'
We are in the days of the long shadows.
The sun rises late and not too boldly
It is content to stay not too far from its parapet, the horizon.
Today there is little warmth to be gained from that ball of fire.
Far away there is a plot brewing in the Atlantic
Dark heavy clouds are gathering
With the wind and the sea they are silently conspiring
The time is coming for nature’s retribution.
Meanwhile.ln the mainland the day has started
Nothing disturbs the early morning.
But dogs prick their ears and whimper.
It is the prelude of things about to happen.
The following dawn when the sun is at its weakest
When ali epic battles commence
The assault begins with a terrifying roll of thunder
It cracks loudly in the dark sky.
Dogs tremble and whimper in fright
Jagged spears of fire flash and lit up the sky
They pierce the forests of trees
They penetrate the forests of cement.
The clouds take pleasure in all of this
They give out a raucous laugh of thunder
And at that point they release their ballast of torrential rain.
A Biblical deluge from which no Noah nor Ark will arise.
Winds strike with destructive force
Nothing will stand in the way of its whirlwind passage of ruin.
And on the shores gigantic waves lash against impotent barriers
It swallows up the shores, the lands beyond, its sovereignty extended even more.
But now at last the clouds retreat
Exhausted, all the combatants, the seas, the winds, retire.
A battle won.
A lesson in humility taught.
It is the dawn of yet another day
The sun cautiously peeps above the horizon
Its early rays light up a. scene of devastation
The sun will make amends by giving warmth and hope.
Humanity accepts this gesture with gratitude.
Meanwhile dogs sniff the air and wag their tails.
There is nothing like a clear sunlit winter’s day.
It is also time to accept life’s vicissitudes and be grateful for another day.
Judge Charlie Durante's Comments:
"This is a deeply satisfying poem, describing in graphic terms, the unleashing of a terrible storm. Wind and sea, like two silent conspirators, are plotting their revenge. This storm is interpreted as a punishment for human hubris-our tendency to ignore nature and, lately, to harm and pollute her. Only the animal world is sensitive to the gathering storm: ‘dogs prick their ears and whimper.’ The storm is envisaged as a military onslaught: ‘epic battles commence’; ‘jagged spears of fire flash.’ Harsh verbs convey the sheer strength of the thunder and lightning: ‘they pierce.......they penetrate.’ This time there will be no saving ark humanity can cling to. At the close, the writer reads a moral lesson into the raw manifestation of nature’s power: our pride has been chastened, our towering ego brought low. We accept ‘the gesture with gratitude.’ The meditation sees nature as a book scripted by the creator. Just like books can spell out a lesson, so nature has taught us a salutary lesson in humility. A very competent and carefully-structured poem."