Category 1 (Ages 7-10 as of April 1st)
Read the example poem “There Isn’t Time” by Eleanor Farjeon in which she laments that there simply is not enough time to do all the fun things we want to do. But imagine you had all the time in a day to do everything you would wish. What would you do that day? Answer that question in a rhyming poem.
Maximum poem length: 16 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernable rhyme scheme.
Category 2 (Ages 11-14 as of April 1st)
Have you ever thought about the story of Cinderella as seen through the eyes of one of the ugly stepsisters? What was “The Night Before Christmas” like for the mouse who wasn’t even stirring?
Read the example poem “The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet” that humorously re-tells the well-known Mother Goose story as experienced by the poor spider who frightened Miss Muffet. Write a rhyming poem that retells a story (or another poem!) from the perspective of a different character or inanimate object observer.
Maximum poem length: 24 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernable rhyme scheme.
Category 3 (Ages 15-19 as of April 1st)
Read the unauthored haiku example poems which tightly describe tranquil scenes in nature. Write a haiku poem no more than 3 stanzas long that similarly describes something in the natural world around you.
Maximum poem length: 9 lines.
Rhyme pattern: None required.
See Rules & Guidelines for important instructions!
Write a rhyming poem that exemplifies how Romantic poetry often celebrates nature.
The Moon’s dim reign has almost passed
And gently comes the Sun;
That pushes through the Stars at last
To wake up everyone.
And all this time I lie asleep,
Submerged in deepest dreams;
While beams of sunlight streak across
The land that sleeps at ease.
The Sun, she reaches out her arms
Adorned with fiery light;
And uses them to work the charm
That makes the day so bright.
Her hands of warmth have reached my bed,
And I in slumber deep;
She places them upon my head
And penetrates my sleep.
My dream is gone and I have woke,
I rub my sleepy eyes;
And seeing me awake, she spoke,
Then rose into the sky.
Down dark and dusty streets I moan,
Wandering desolate paths, alone.
I long to feel fresh sun in my face,
See dew glint on spider’s lace,
Hear golden trees dance where I have been ...
When, oh when, will I be wind, to wander through an aspen glen?
In scarlet forest, deep I’d go,
’Til all the windpaths I would know.
I’d stir the trees until their leaves,
Came floating down in windblown ease,
Came floating down past swooping wren ...
When, oh when, will I be wind, to dance with leaves in aspen glen?
But now again my windway ’s blocked,
And all my doors to movement, locked.
I must, in silence, wait ’til there’s
Another joyous breath of air,
With which I’ll do a grateful spin ...
And then again I will be wind, winding my way toward aspen glen!
A sliver of sun reddens the hills;
Greeting the dawn, a young skylark trills,
Above a log cabin on the moor.
Bell heather ring in all their glory,
Shattering the peace with their purple story,
Around a log cabin on the moor.
As the sun dims on the heart-wild scene,
The bees take their nectar fees to their queen
Near a log cabin on the moor.
The frost is chilly, the breeze is strong.
The short-eared owls hoot their kin song
To a log cabin on the moor.
Moonlight seeping through the door,
While in bed I lie sleeping
In my log cabin on the moor.
I sit upon a topsoil bed,
Bright stretching petals on my head,
Reds, yellows, and blues around me.
Warm sun shining bright,
Bees pollenate while in flight,
And birds stop to smile at me.
Our home is guarded by great sequoias,
Our mothers are pretty gladiolas,
The babies are buds young and new.
We’re a happy flower family in the dew.
When clouds open up,
Rain fills our soil like a cup,
We all dig our roots in tightly;
Drinking the rain,
Right up through our veins,
Until the sun again shines brightly.
I cast a warm glow on the ocean below;
My rays stretch down to greet hello.
I taste of the sandy, salty water
That in the afternoon I make hotter.
My sparkly reflection on the dazzling deep sea
Gives me a clean mirror so I can see me.
The foamy, white waves make an incessant sound
On the shore with a huge thump and a heavy pound.
Seagulls like to peck, peck, peck
At the colorful shells children like to collect.
Pelicans gracefully scoop up their prey,
As a school of :fish swiftly swim away.
On windy days a kite and I play tag
As a cool breeze lifts it up in a zigzag.
On rainy days I play hide and seek
From behind dark clouds I take a sneak peak.
In the evening I paint the sky crimson red
The perfect color for crabby crabs to go to bed.
I am splendid, radiant, majestic, and grand;
God put me in charge of the sea and land!
Write a poem that exemplifies how Medieval poetry often tells a story in heroic couplets.
The calloused brown hands of the captain gripped
The railing of his wildly plunging ship
Studying the fearful scene of the sea
Roiling and surging quite menacingly
He turned to his crew with steel in his eyes
“Tonight,” said he, “this storm requires our lives.”
At his words, thunder exploded above
And lightning sizzled in fiery tongues
As its piercing glow emblazoned the night
Men mounted the masts, defying their plight
The wind shrieked in outrage and howled dire threats
Ripped at the vessel with each vicious breath
Churning and roaring, the cruel waves rose
Smashing on the deck with ferocious blows
Lightning struck once more, wood groaned and splintered
The mainmast collapsed in piles of timber
When it fell, the ship became the sea’s prey
The deck’s planks buckled, the foremast gave way
With all control gone, and all hope erased
Their fate was written on every man’s face
The captain looked boldly at his sailors
“You fought like men—you will not die failures.”
Then a tow’ring wave upon them thundered
And the wall of water pulled them under.
As I sat all alone in the king’s lair,
I waited for the knight he had lured there.
He doesn’t have to feed me knights, of course,
I would be satisfied with just a horse.
He often whines that feeding me is hard,
His pretty carriage house all smashed and charred.
He grumbles I’m a nuisance, oh, but no,
If I’m a pest he should just let me go.
And while I sat a-thinking on the ground
Out of the dank, still darkness came a sound.
And when I slithered toward it like a pike
I found a tiny human poised to strike.
I stared at it with my great yellow eyes.
I guess I must have caug;ht it by surprise.
Routinely I’d have tom away a bite,
But something was unique about this knight.
And while I stood there with my mouth agape,
It begged, “You kindly might help me escape.
Then we could work together, that’s the thing.”
We set off and destroyed the evil king.
And with my newfound comrade I took flight.
Together we soared off through the clear night.
So maybe all those “heroes” should have thought
And allied with the dragons that they fought.
Red designs give me power
For the battle, the deciding hour
Trees of strength, wings of hope
Lengthening my copper rope
Copper fire against the black
And I shall win our freedom back
Yes me, the Common Queen
For I am stronger then I seem
With your prayers, we shall see
What the demon makes of me
Perhaps I shall die this coming night
Perhaps the demon will kill on sight
But with the iron by my side
Maybe we can turn the tide
Whatever happens, I stand tall
And know he cannot take it all
And when I light my copper fire
He shall know it’s his funeral pyre
With the henna to strengthen me
I’ ll bind the darkness, then go free
King Hrothgar, ruler of Heriot Hall, and a noble Dane,
was given aid by Beowulf, a courageous warrior thane.
The bloodthirsty rampages of the monster Grendel,
did then a fire of rage in Beowulf kindle.
Heriot Hall did he bravely defend,
the terrible monster’s arm did he break and bend.
So Grendel, that coward ran for his life,
though he had already met his end, though not by a knife.
For Beowulf with his incredible might,
had barehanded fought him, and Grendel he did smite.
But though that night the warriors slept in peace,
Heriot Hall’s dangers, however, had yet to cease.
For that mother of Grendel, the monstrous one,
sought to avenge the death of her horrendous son.
Attacked she did, by the cover of night,
causing the warriors a dreadful fright.
And seeing them wide awake, she turned and fled,
then brave Beowulf knew he could not rest, till she lay dead.
He and his men pursued her for hours,
some fearing her dark and mysterious powers.
Finally, Beowulf plunged after her into an eerie lake,
deep down he swam, though he knew his life was at stake.
At last he grasped that giant’s sword, and slew the beast amidst piles of gold,
now stories are told of Beowulf, that great hero of old.
The rabbi of Cordova came, clever and sure,
To pass three tests set by the Emir,
So that the Jewish people could stay,
In the land of Cordova to the end of their days.
“Test one,” said the Emir with a glint in his eye.
“How many stars shine in the sky?”
The rabbi said, “Why, I’ve done this before,
the answers six million, five thousand, and four!”
The Emir was dumbfounded but quickly replied,
“Test two: what’s the length from a truth to a lie?”
The rabbi’s heart pounded as he took up his stand,
But then he realized, “It’s then width of one hand!
The truth is what you see with your eyes,
But with your ears you hear a lie.
And the width of one hand is the distance between.”
“Enough!” cried the Emir. “On to test three!“
And he brought out a bowl with two papers inside.
“One says stay and one go, so choose one!” He cried.
Now the rabbi was sure that both papers said ‘go’
So he swallowed one and held the other to show,
“It says go so the other said stay!”
The Emir of Cordova had been beaten that day.
But he honored his promise, took back his command,
And thanks to rabbi, the Jews stayed in that land.
Write a rhyming poem that exemplifies how Neoclassical poetry often instructs about reason and common sense.
Are there any unacquainted still
’with the monarchy of human will?
’Tis this liberty of choice that sets
Man superior to his beasts and pets;
There’s princely Reason in ev’ry brain,
Where he sits enthroned in his domain;
His crown is logic, his signet fact,
He is master of the realms abstract;
This king is proud, sophisticated,
With knowledge he is never sated;
On tomorrow does he cast an eye,
Lest far-reaching plans should go awry;
But Reason’s sensible precision’s
Not ’lone in molding men’s decisions;
For in every pulsing human heart,
Governs queenly Feelings from the start;
Her tiara with emotions jeweled,
Her inspirations with impulse fueled;
Arrayed in brilliant iridescence,
Her charm is warmth and effervescence;
At times her gems do lose their luster,
For she is found in frequent fluster,
Her spirits quick to be elated,
Though just as quick to be deflated;
Reason absent, Feelings likens Eve:
Capricious, enchanting, and naive;
Without Feelings him to animate,
Reason waxes calloused, insensate;
This regal pair did the Lord instill,
As joint instruments of man’s free will;
Stifle not one at th’ other’s expense:
To acknowledge both is common sense!
Atoms always do as they’re told;
The depths of space are reliably cold.
The only creature so brash and bold
To disobey—is man.
From diatoms to galaxies,
The earth in its totality,
There’s no question of morality:
None breaks away- but man.
Beasts don’t argue with their Creator;
Plants submit to One who’s greater.
The only wannabe debater
To have a voice—is man.
We’ve filled the earth and subdued it.
We read the law, and then occlude it.
He made freedom, in us imbued it;
He gave choice—to man.
We’re wise enough to think we are;
We don’t see how we miss the mark.
We close our eyes and wax our hearts.
What ghastly pride!—has man.
With shaking heart and shaking fist,
Our remedy we oft dismissed.
Wisest of all is the One we resist:
The Son of God—and Man.
I know why my instinct finds you alluring:
You’re so subtly funny, and quick, and divine.
Every word from your lips admiration ensuring;
This cancer of love, though it grows, is benign.
You’re gentle with fragile things. Oh, how tender!
But evil you ruthlessly cut down and raze.
You are honor and chivalry’s first bold defender.
Yet so meek ... my pure love sets me ablaze.
Your intellect and goodness inspire and dazzle,
You encourage me gently to cure any vice.
You’re the cream to my ice; the thyme to my basil:
You’re sugar and salt and light and spice.
You’re brave and fantastic, your looks so appealing;
So humble, you win my heart without trying.
Your honesty and frankness perpetuate this feeling,
This rapture, this joy, this love unifying.
I long to be with you, and make you my own,
In holy and pure matrimony entwined.
And if you would love me for ages unknown,
I’d be perfectly blissful to call you mine.
No powers on earth would keep me from you,
Neither legal, nor social, nor jurisdictional.
If you did love me, you’d ne’er be untrue—
But!—I drop the book—You’re purely fictional.
Awaken all of you forsaken beasts of Hades’ land
We devoid from sense of conscience feed off hubris’ mighty hand
Every day we slave away to avarice inside
With hearts rock-soft we stand aloft the pinnacle of pride
As our tempests blow we know we care not tame our storms at all
Yet never think that we would drink of our own Ambrosian gall
We stoop so low to spread and sow the seeds we can’t afford
And stake on each life to bear such strife and grow fruits of discord
The Temptress sings of precious things and creeps inside our heads
While we hide inside the Trojan prize and kill each other off instead
While we fight and kill and battle still Selene is rising high
Her stars of white cast diamond light; the night is drawing nigh
Though we revel in our devil-sin, and our failures travel deep
We’ll always try, whether we live or die, to put our sirens all to sleep
She lived there in the meadow green,
Was brought there in her youth;
There in His brook flowed all she’d need
To trust in every truth.
But one day she, in arrogance,
Set foot on fatal stair
That leads to knowledge so divine,
No mortal stands up there.
As she climbed high, a host of scrolls,
The story of the world,
Were rolled and stretched from cloud to cloud;
Their myst’ries ’round her swirled.
The cloudy air dizzied her head;
Celestial parchments lashed
Around her swaying form until
Her mind staggered, then crashed.
In witlessness she stumbled on,
Up staircase of the sky,
Deciding she would try to reach
The mind of God on high.
But just when she, oh, lunacy!
Believed she’d reached the top,
A bog of darkness choked her eyes,
The floor beneath her rocked,
And fi’ry orbs of searing red
Through blasting wind did roar.
She shook, collapsed down to her knees,
And pleaded, "Mercy, Lord"—
Her eyes then opened, and she saw
The lovely meadow green,
While just behind her, winged angel
Flew away, unseen.