Read the Wordsworth@250 winning poems

A woman wearing dungarees sitting in an armchair

Congratulations to the winners of the Wordsworth@250 Young People’s Poetry Competition, which we held in 2020 in conjunction with the Words by the Water literary festival.

We invited budding writers under the age of 19 to follow in William’s footsteps and write an original poem of up to 40 lines inspired by the natural world.

The best entry in each age category – 13-18 years and 12 years and under – as chosen by the judges, poets Helen Mort and Rowan McCabe, won a Lake District camping weekend for themselves and their family at a National Trust campsite for up to two adults and two children.

The winners: 13-18 years

First place in the 13-18 category went to Lucy Prescott, aged 17, from Staveley, who wrote Floodwater.


I watched the way in which
the rain turned the concrete wet 
and washed it away down the drains.
The ground slumped to mud, 
the sequin crickets hopped off the pavements 
and the gutters filled up.
Branches dribbled to twigs, snapped and
lined the closed roads
that were overridden by meres, 
pushing and pulling straying rowboats.

Submersion filled up the sky, 
the clouds sat on the fells and let
their white tails lay in ghylls.
Delicate nests and eggs were cast into pools.
Car engines spluttered and lapped
at the water to cool 
their exhaustion. 
The belly of the storm was heavy, 
thumping and birthing showers and thunder.
The fields slipped from under our feet 
and we retreated indoors. 

Whilst we were gone,
the trails were scoured and rubbed back. 
The treaded tracks of boots were reduced to pulp. 
The tarns exceeded their boundaries,
tugging the tantrum trees from their banks 
and dragging them in with their roots up.
The herdwicks’ coats were heavy and full,
and they hurled themselves in lines behind walls
and talk aloud about it all.

Eventually, it sinks. The ground takes it in 
and drinks up the chaos of the weather.
The floods can subside and ochre leaves 
that were rhythmically assembled on the black, inking roads, 
can act as mulch for the buds. 
To the scattered February lullaby, 
their petal-skulls push up.
We come outside and inhale the air
that has been freshly scrubbed by the flood, for us.

Second place (age 13-18) went to William Graham, from Keswick School, for The River.

The River

A drop of water atop the mountain,
Flows slowly in a stream to the bottom,
Like roots for a tree they merge into one,
Carving and cutting through the stones and earth,

An unstoppable and rampaging force,
Flowing fast, gradually gaining speed,
Slicing violently straight through the valley,
Then suddenly crash off the waterfall,

Meandering gently through the low lands,
Reflecting the beautiful scenery,
Home to a variety of creatures,
It is tranquil slow and crystal clear,

Widening and drawing ever closer,
To glistening bubbles and crashing waves,
To golden beaches and swirling sea shells.

Third place (age 13-18) went to Ben Leroy, from Moorfield Learning Centre, Barrow in Furness, author of Howling Winter.

Howling Winter

I sat alone in a dim light, 
watching the forest trees sway left to right against the cold winter wind.
No animal was left to see, 
they were all sleeping beneath the frosted hills, 
the ground was thick in pearly white, 
the flowers wilted and dead, 
the wind howls fiercely open this winter night.

There was also a special mention from the judges in this category for Olivia Web, from Furness Academy, for Summer.


A cooler breeze grazed my burned face,
Relieving the heat trapped behind my rosy cheeks,
I lay,
With the welcoming sun gazing down at me. 
A drink in my sun-kissed hand.
Goodbye skies of grey, hello skies of blue!

Through the tint of my sunglasses,
My attention was set on the swallows,
Those who crisscrossed the sky,
There is really no point in denying,
Summer is here.

The winners: 12 and under

In the 12 and under category, the overall winner was Jamie Tyson, from Broughton School, for Spring is on the way.

Spring is on the way

I trembled along the misty trail,
Towards Soddy Gap to investigate how to unlock spring,
The sun glimmered onto the rippled tarn,
Blessed by air, feeling calm,
As I walked past the biscuit, brown trees,
The elegant swans flutter along the shimmering water in the breeze,
The lonely, silent sanctuary was as calm as the school library,
The graceful swans hopped onto the island like it was nature’s boat.

Second place went to Alyssa Mee, from Newcastle, who wrote If....


If I was a bird 
I’d fly through the sky 
Watching with wonder
The world passing by

If I was a fish 
I’d dip and I’d dive
Down the flowing river
Pleased to be alive

If I was a tree
I’d provide a safe haven
For all living things 
From the squirrel to the raven

If I was a mountain
I’d show you wonderful views
So maybe you’d go home
And tell everyone the news

If I ruled the world
I’d look after these things
And save all the creatures
With fur, scales and wings.

Beth Skidmore, from All Saints School, Cockermouth, was third, with The Fells.

The Fells

Grey mist swirling over the summit
A patchwork of purple heather draped over
The sun rises and the sky’s lit
Roaming sheep munch on clover

Solitary trees sway in the breeze
The hills like fathomless steps to the sky
A lone rock tumbles down the screes 
The hunting call of a kestrel cry

Golden bracken dominating the fells
The bitter-sweet foxgloves dappled with mountain rain
The summer the stormy weather repels
The fell pony tosses it’s free spirited mane

And there was a special mention from the judges for four-year-old Adam Vyskocil, from Milton Keynes, for his untitled poem.


We go camping with daddy 
Everything is almost ready 
I like to run around the rocks 
When the sun is shining 
And it’s not raining 

I can’t wait to take the plane 
So we can start the game 
And will be summer again