Saturday, March 24th- 9am-1pm

This year was our first participation in the Poetry by Heart competition. The English Department of the École Jeannine Manuel, in association with ELSA France, organized and hosted the French National School Final of Poetry By Heart for its 4th edition in France, with 16 schools (from the Paris area, but also from Nancy or Lille) entering the competition. The quality of the performances of the contestants is simply jaw-dropping, with participants not just reciting, but showing in-depth understanding of the poems and conveying strong emotion.

The LIEP had one participant from 10th grade, Cedric Sun, who brilliantly represented the school with two poems, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, a 17th century poem by Robert Herrick, and Wedding, a poem written by Alice Oswald in 1996.

This competition was set up by Andrew Motion in 2012 in the UK and asks contestants to learn two or three poems and be judged on their recitations. In Sir Andrew Motion’s words, « It has always been my hope in setting up Poetry by Heart that we would give young people the opportunity to enjoy a wider range of poetry than they usually find in their preparation for exams.  We want to offer new ways of finding pleasure and confidence in a part of the curriculum where such things can be in short supply. The sort of pleasure and confidence, in fact, that adds tremendously to young people’s self-esteem, to their verbal skills, to their powers of communication, and so to a more fulfilled life and greater opportunities.  The competition is an end in itself, but it’s also a gateway, a beginning. »

To learn more about Poetry by heart, here’s the link to their website:

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time (1648)

Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry;

For having lost but once your prime,

You may for ever tarry.

Wedding (1996)

Alice Oswald

From time to time our love is like a sail

and when the sail begins to alternate

from tack to tack, it’s like a swallowtail

and when the swallow flies it’s like a coat;

and if the coat is yours, it has a tear

like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins

to draw the wind, it’s like a trumpeter

and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions…

and this, my love, when millions come and go

beyond the need of us, is like a trick;

and when the trick begins, it’s like a toe

tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck;

and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding,

which is like love, which is like everything.