Grade 9 Ballads
As most of us painfully discovered, when online learning started, the Melhuish Contest was cancelled by the Head of English himself, Mr. Collis. Students across the school were devastated by the inconsolable news. Luckily, Mrs. Reynolds' Grade 9 English cohort was enlightened by something she described as a “special surprise.”
“Well kids, the ballads are due on April 9th, any questions?”
No one had any questions…
The kids sat soundlessly in front of their computer screens wailing with excitement. And so, they learned about foot and meter, learned how to differentiate trochaic vs iambic lines and of course, what to call a line with four feet. Their ballads were to be a minimum of four quatrains and had to tell a story. It was truly no surprise when April 9th arrived and the ballads were beyond exceptional. There was rhyming, storytelling, originality and voices flowing through the Grade 9’s works.
Nonetheless, this was still a competition and Mrs. Reynolds assigned Stockwell Day (her famous politician brother) and his lovely wife, Valorie, to choose a winner. Mr. Day created his own rubric, “Originality, flow, use of imagery and overall ‘vibe.’” Based on this, they selected “The Morning’s Just Begun” by Jack D, Privett ‘23 and “Fragments” by Baya I, Hope ‘23 as joint winners. Their ballads are copied below. Reluctantly, many poems were far too marvellous to go unnoticed so the poems of Ariel C, Eva T, Sam D, Annika E and Hope T were recognized as well.
Safe to say the Ballads gave the 9’s something to do while in safe isolation. As Lucy M, Mack ‘23 affirmed, “It was a swaggy experience overall!”
Miranda NP, Alex ‘23
Fragments by Baya I, Hope ‘23
We live, we love, we breathe, we think.
Until we soon may not.
So savour what is happening,
And live, for some cannot.
The first one hurts, the second too.
We must just carry through.
You said it would get easier,
But oh, how wrong were you.
I run, we race, it never ends
We seldom get too far.
I ought to give my best fake smile,
And bear the pain and scars.
The lights, the sounds, the smells, the pain.
Some things you can’t forget.
Each time I gather up myself,
I’m right back down I fret.
It’s best, they say, so I relax
And give them their demands.
I clench my fists and close my eyes,
Disarmed to what still stands.
Still, going back we relive all.
The same cries from afore,
Echo in hearts of loss, this hurt
They never felt before.
Yet hanging there is still the knife,
It never leaves your head.
Around the bend and back, you are.
Relive it all again.
A never-ending circle then,
Of helpless, hopeless tries.
And yet it’s settled down for now.
It just keeps telling lies.
The Morning’s Just Begun by Jack D, Privett ‘23
The rising sun means sleep is done,
Your sluggish morning starts;
If that were real, there’d be no deal,
But school makes you depart.
The vile alarm by your bed or arm.
Wakes you swiftly from your sleep;
You hit your head upon the bed
Just trying to stop its beep.
You stumble, moan, and grumble, groan.
While walking through the hall;
Your mouth is clay and the words you say
Come out in such a drawl.
Now the fact set aside you feel dead inside.
You must eat something at least;
You draw the fridge open and just as you’re hopin’
You find some food to feast.
And after that drag, you’ll pack your bag.
You can’t afford to wait;
You’ll carry that mass all the way to class
For which you’re prob’ly late.
A ride in the car, school’s not that far.
But it feels like forever still;
Your eyes weigh down, and your conscience drowns
And your head hits the window sill.
You snap back awake, though your head does ache,
And you drive right through the gate;
The car jerks right, hell’s just in sight
Your watch reads “eight o’ eight”.
The car finally stops and out you hop
And off to class you run;
But to your demise, you realize
The morning’s just begun.
In The Trenches by Anika E
As we lay silent in the trench,
All waiting so stiff and chilled.
These young souls dreaming of loved ones,
All wanting bellies filled.
Knees all hugged against our chest,
Tightly gripping our guns.
As we sit in tide pools of mud,
Acrid air fills our lungs.
All together they share the same pain,
This keeps them up all night,
The one that keeps them all alive,
This is what makes them fight.
They anticipate all the bombs,
And knowing they have to kill.
Bullets will fly, some miss, some hit,
But for now, all is still.
Dog’s Life by Ariel C
No man has stood the test of time
Without a dog to aid
In days long past, you’d point your dog,
And there your dinner lay.
So in that time, your bond is formed;
and foes lay on the ground.
You’d eat and let your dog eat too,
and just like that, you’re bound.
As time went by, you’d use your friend
To herd and not to hunt,
you’d gain some money, feed your dog,
And love your little runt.
in other places, dogs could help
By helping pull your sled;
They’d bring you ‘round the Nordic plains
and you’d keep them well-fed.
In days of old, to tame a dog
was not a simple task;
One had to trust and feed and give,
It’s not like you could ask.
And times progressed, the years went by,
then came that dreadful time
That dogs were bred just for their traits
with no reason to rhyme.
Gave way to the dogs of today, it did,
You could have any breed.
By simply walking to the store
And saying what you need.
You might have want for tiny dogs,
In that case, have a pug.
Or if you want a bigger friend,
Chow chows are fun to hug.
Of course, no human really thinks
If breeds are good or bad
For dogs, it’s certain that they’re harmed
All because of this fad.
We tinkered, played, and toyed around;
Breeds were experiments.
We’d no idea what we’d made,
We were out of our element.
The only reason breeds exist
Is all because of we
Who stop them all from cross-breeding;
From their woes they’d be free.
Save hunting breeds and herding breeds,
not one breed has been saved
From selective breeding and the horrors
Whose outcomes are quite grave.
Some breeds have skulls too small for brains;
It really hurts to think
we humans did this to the dogs,
Yet no one draws that link
if it weren’t for everyone’s desire
for a certain breed,
it’s sure that dogs would be healthy;
for breeds we’d have no need.
Today, we only care whether
Our dogs are cute or not;
We do not care for the effects
Breeding has on that lot.
Imperative is it that we
At some point recognize
That wiping breeds out is the way;
It would be pretty wise.
The Encounter by Eva T
Along the rugged shore, I trudged;
An eerie stillness, ‘round me bled.
Waves lapping at the low-lying mist,
And a corvid circling overhead.
But halt, in front; a withered figure…
His aged brow he raised.
Hoary hair and blank milk-eyes,
Thus I met his chilling gaze
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
“Come youth, what do you yearn?”
So he croaked in a hollow’d voice
Like a whirlwind in an urn.
“I was born the victim of
A most carnivorous mind.
Drifting in the concept realm,
In that which awed me, I’m confined.
Where existence extends beyond
My sorry corporeal form.
To the expanse of thought, I yield,
tie-die visons and man-made norms.
Oh! How rich! How very vast!
Such is all the mind’s terrain.
Yet every concept is within
The conceivable contained.
But inside these ample limits,
I have travelled far out there,
And I’ve n’er felt such rapture
As those lucid visions and liquid air!
Whether abstract or manifest,
All matter is but one.”
So I heard the old man whisper,
Before whisper turned to hum:
“The mind, the world: a work of art.
Things hitherto unseen…
So take my message and depart,
From this here prolonged dream.”
My Family Through This Epidemic by Samantha D
My Family weathered, solid as a rock
Grounded in a Faith so pure.
Siblings ready and willing to talk
We are going to have to endure
Crowed and cramped, no personal space
Silence a thing of the past
If we did not have God’s love and grace
I simply would not last
When we are together, never bored
Finding something to do
Purchases from Amazon we cannot afford
Subscriptions, we must renew
As dormant days turn into weeks
Our laughter continually grows
Not much said about declining physiques
When will it end? Nobody knows.