The Keats Shelley House McDonald's Piazza di Spagna poetry prize 2004 is divided into two sections, English and Italian, and into three age groups. This year the 5-9 age group was given the themes "Flight in a balloon" or "Things that go bump in the night; the 10-13 group "Conversation with a dragon" or "Anticipation"; the 14-18 group "Otherness" or "A vision". Below are the poems of the first prize winners in each category.

Things that go bump in the night

When you sleep

You think all is still

Instead bins rattle

Pushed by wind or cats

When you sleep

You think all is still

Instead shutters bang,

Moved by a storm

When you sleep

You think all is still

Instead, at midnight, the clock strikes

When you sleep

You think all is still

Instead cars blow their horns

When you sleep

You think all is still


Bang! Things go bump in the night!

Giulia Selvaggi, 9 years. Britannia International School. First prize in the 5-9 age group.

A Conversation with a Dragon

I am a princess; I have my own land,

I hold court in my castle so grand,

Ive danced with knights, lords, and kings,

They give me jewels, they give me rings.

Ive studied and read a million books,

I am a stunner - I have good looks.

But, once when riding on a pony of mine,

In the dark forest, full of some sweet pine

I was knocked out of the saddle and fell -

Down the Rabbit Hole, down to hell

I landed with a mighty thump,

Atop of a glittering golden lump

A million treasure to keep beholden

And atop of that was a dragon golden.

It blinked its rheumy milk blind eyes

And hissed and mumbled feeble battle cries.

Within its gum it had no teeth,

Age had dealt out all it could bequeath.

It moaned and begged me to take no gold

As up the pile I climbed and made bold

You silly beast, cannot you smell?

I am a Princess, and I tripped and fell.

I have no need of gold or jewels

Wealth like this is the wealth of fools

Real gold comes from perfect power

For man cannot refuse what grows by hour,

Why do you collect this pile?

I think I felt the dragon smile

It nodded its sweet accord and said

I doubted you would draw a sword,

To take my hoard away from my care,

That is something you would not dare.

But, then in a terrible crash of sound

A knight fell to the gold-strewn ground

He bellowed, Dragon give up your pile,

And the babe on the gold - comn give us a smile!

For I am your Prince - and you I shall save,

Ill put that brute 12 foot in the grave!

But, I grabbed a sword and swung at the knight

It resounded so loud he was out like a light.

And so I saved a dragon from a Prince

And Ive lived happily ever since.

Abigail Pfeiffer, 13 years. Marymount International School. First prize in the 10-13 age group.

The Empress Loses Her Sight

She inspected people; in her book you were what you wore,

Preferably impeccable Chanel dress suits like hers; white for summer, gray

In the fall, ironed on for business as a wife in the diplomatic corps.

Eyes like hers spied down telephone wires: prying, shed say,

Darling tell me something What are you wearing?

She collected signs of luxury, had an eye for the lavish and ornate:

Liked to watch the light crystallise on a Venetian glass vase, glaring

In the sun that shifted elegantly through her lavish curtains late

In the afternoon. Beginning in April she would entertain quite

Often, always a luncheon in the garden, doors to her salon flung

Open, for the excellent air, she would claim, and then enjoy the sight

Of her lady friends craning theirs necks discreetly into where were hung

Her deceased husbands collection of nineteenth century portraits. Girls

In magnificent painted silk dresses spread refulgent across the frame,

Shimmering taffeta and the absolutely perfect chain of pale pink pearls

That swooped from the hair and down the neck of the real empress, named

Josephine, the real empress. It was the pearls she noticed leaving at once,

Their minute perfection beginning to escape her loving eye. They dulled soon, Into a soft rosy smear. The frame began to fade soon: exquisite filigree became blunt Blocks of light, but at least she could discern it; her mahogany chess table, heirloom

Wood, became invisible, lurking, awaiting now the timid tap of a cane

Around the room she once dominated. For long hours she would sit down,

Fingering the velvet on her favourite chaise-longue, beneath the other empress vain Smirk. She was the ruler of the old room now.

Cora Currier, 16 years. St Stephens School.

First prize in the 14-18 age group.

Cose che di notte ti fanno

fare un salto

Io di notte ho paura,

dovunque guardo

mi sembra di vedere unombra scura.

Guardo sotto il letto:

scorgo camminare un folletto.

Batto gli occhi

il folletto sparisce

ma compaiono delle bisce:

Grido dalla paura,

nella mia camera sono insicura.

mi rifugio tra mamma e pap:

Sfido la paura

a venire a prendermi qua!

Ludovica Bozzitelli and Francesco Rossetti, 8 years. Cassio Sgrignani. First prize in the 5-9 age group.

Aspettando la vita

Assaporo il gusto della vita

Vedo gi come sar,

piena di gioie e di avversit.

Sar lieta o angosciosa

come, nella notte,

il fiore o il gambo di una rosa.

Sar complicata, ma di successo,

perch il mio angelo

me lo ha promesso.

Sento che sar bella e fortunata

quando, tra dieci minuti, sar nata.

Sento gi la gioia de miei parenti

che, per guardarmi,

stanno stretti e attenti.

Sento gi la mia nonnina

che sempre mi sar vicina.

Sento la mia mamma piangere,

mentre la sua pancia cerco di stringere.

Accarezzarmi, ora, non pu;

solo quando al mondo verr

ma con dolcezza dovr toccarmi,

se non vorr ferirmi.

Vorrei essere attesa,

con affetto e amore,

da tutti gli abitanti della terra

e trovare la pace e non la guerra.

Lady Ellen Agyare, 13 years. SMS S. Giovanni Bosco. First prize in the 10-13 age group.

La partenza del rifugiato

La partenza del rifugiato,

un viaggio di solo andata.

E smarrimento della sua identit.

Una voce strozzata,

un fantasma al guinzaglio

di una civilt, senza diritti

e senza umanit.

Silvia Ciccodicola, 14 years. Giovanni Falcone.

First prize in the 14-18 age group.