Matthew Ryan-East, Leweston English teacher and Head of Sixth Form, was delighted to win first place in the annual Blandford and Stour Rotary writing competition for 2023.
His winning poem ‘Hod Hill’ (below) was read aloud as part of a special award ceremony last Friday where Matthew was also presented with the prestigious Rotary Cup by the Mayor of Blandford.
As a keen walker and lover of the great outdoors, Matthew’s poem is a celebration of the North-Dorset iron-age hillfort and its natural surroundings, exploring its ancient past, its flora and fauna, and its ongoing preservation by the National Trust.
As well as the Leweston community, Matthew is a regular member of a local poetry society and sits on the committee for the Blandford Literary Festival, an exciting event planned for 14-17 November 2024: https://www.blandfordliteraryfestival.com/
by Matthew Ryan-East
Behold! The mighty Hod that rises high
Above North Dorset fields; a chalky hood
To shelter from the wide south-western sky.
Below, the Stour shimmers silver smiles,
And grazing sheep like crawling clouds on green
Float back and forth across the square-ringed miles.
This pock-marked downland crown – here Celtic sword
And Roman spear have swung and sung in blood –
Now crests its verdant skull where war once roared.
What hands were here to build the roundhouse squat?
What feet marched up this earthen shoulder top?
What fingers danced to mould each sculpted pot?
Those whose bones now lie within this georgic tomb;
Whose voices whisper through the grass at dusk;
Whose fires, long dead, once burnt away the gloom.
But with the warming spring comes life anew,
With insect, bird and mammal climbing blade
And branch and scarp amidst the morning dew.
And now our boots trudge up Hod’s ancient banks
To share this piece of wonder kept alive,
And for this Wessex treasure, we give thanks.