Poem About U.K. Villages Wins Contest
Oct. 09, 2003
LONDON (AP) _ There are no ``dark satanic mills'' in Con Connell's gentle poem about the quiet beauty of the British countryside.
But Connell's ``Harvest Time: a Needlework Map commemorating the Millennium'' was declared on Thursday to be a worthy successor to William Blake's ``Jerusalem.''
Connell, a 54-year-old computer specialist from Southampton in southern England, beat more than 5,000 other amateur poets to triumph in the British Broadcasting Corporation's ``Poem For Britain'' competition. His poem was to be performed live on BBC TV's ``Essential Poems for Britain'' program on Thursday evening.
Blake's poem evokes the legend that the child Jesus visited England:
``...And did the Countenance Divine,
``Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
``And was Jerusalem builded here,
``Among these dark Satanic mills?''
The BBC challenged Britain's poets to write a work to match ``the intensity and resonance of Blake,'' and was rewarded with a selection of poems involving everything from sex, to Big Brother and suburbia.
``British identity is shaped by poetry. Through the competition we also saw the fascinating results of a cultural examination of the nation's self-perception,'' said ``Essential Poems for Britain'' host Daisy Goodwin.
Connell said the competition ``is a marvelous idea for encouraging a wider interest in poetry.''
In the poem, he muses that:
``Our village holds no special place
``In history. Its public face
``Would cause no traveler to pause,
``Its landscape merits no applause.
``We love it though. And love declares
``Its memories, in patchwork squares,
``And fabric images that bind
``The heritage we leave behind.
``Each public, private thought portrayed,
``Each delicately appliqued.
``We stretch our memories on frames,
``Without exaggerated claims,
``Knowing each proud biography
``Embroiders our geography.
``This warning, too, our needles know,
``That as we reap, so shall we sew.''
Judges included the British poet Roger McGough and writer and broadcaster Nigel Williams.