Poetry is an important part of life at St John’s Beaumont School and the annual Verse Speaking competition is a serious affair for which boys rehearse for weeks to succeed.

This year’s Verse Speaking Final was adjudicated by David Gibbons, Deputy Head of English at Eton College, whom we’d like to thank for his time and wise words for the boys.

Congratulations to the winners of the Verse Speaking Competition 2022;

  • Corey H (Seniors & Overall)
  • Zach M (Intermediates)
  • Antonio SC (Juniors).

Verse Speaking Reflection
by Enrique P (Year 8)

It was a dark, dull day and the chilly wind crept through the frosty windows stiffening our bones. But we knew it was going to happen because of the ear to ear grin Sir had sitting on his face. The game had begun. Sir said through gritted teeth, articulating every consonant so that it boomed across the room, filling our brains with the phrase: ‘Verse speaking’.

SJB Verse Speaking 2022 EnriqueAs the competition progressed, the poems seemed like a death chant creeping into our plump purple ears. ‘Shall I compare thee…? If we shadows have offended… If you can treat those two impostors same… Two roads diverged… All the world is a stage….. Dulce et Decorum est’ these phrases penetrated our minds like a knife through tender beef and our moans were the dripping blood screaming to be noticed, begging us to stop. 

The next round flowed like the breeze that revolved around us during it, drearily and coldly, painfully and panting. But soon enough it was over and the competition turned warmer and warmer as the months progressed and I did the same. I liked Mr Delaney’s analogy that the final was just the tip of the iceberg because it really got less cold and dreary. But still, the tip of the iceberg destroyed the Titanic. 

Soon, it was time for the semifinal. By this time, the death chants turned audible and started sounding like a symphony. It was meant to fill the well-prepared sports hall, but as it was it sounded like it was missing something, what? Oh yes, the instruments. But the boys had learned their poems well, and soon the violinist came. 

SJB Verse Speaking 2022 CoreyMore and more, the competition progressed and now, the poems really felt like ‘Darling buds of May’. Pressure started building up as the final approached. …and then it came.

The boys had their blazers fitted ready, and their poems polished so that as soon as their poems left their trembling lips, the clash of basses and cellos and violins came together. As each boy stood there, music filled the school, and every parent blushed and clapped at the start and eve of their son’s poem. 

In the end, Corey won, having trained his orchestra the best, having had a strong start. 

It is a bit sad it takes your last year to realize the beauty of this competition, but all the way from the dreary start to the music display of an eve, it was verse speaking, and I think, I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the boys, that everybody enjoyed it. 

Enjoy the winning poems:

Special Feature:

Whilst this year’s adjudicator, David Gibbons, Deputy Head of English at Eton College, completed his deliberations, Vlad and Adam recited the poem ‘Lies’ by the late poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko in English, Ukrainian and Russian.

Impressions of the event:

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