Winning poems by adults in the Headington Poetry Competition 2003



On The Passing of the Fields between Headington and Quarry, October 1935 (Felicia Roper)

See — even now the field is decreasing
Gone are the poppies so red.
Gone too is the sorrel, the thistle and ragwort
And houses are growing instead.

Armies of workmen are hammering and digging
While Shotover watches with care,
For soon her buttercups, poppies and daisies
Will be of God’s flowers the most rare.

On the same path that little brown rabbits
And tiny grey mice had their fun
There comes the tramp tramp of that army of men
And away all the wild folk must run.

That grass is no longer for little wild things
They must seek for a safer home.
For the children of men have come with their bricks
And will turn the field into a town.

So take your last look at the sad Quarry fields
Where Shotover raises her head.
That wild piece of land where your dog loved to romp
Is a housing estate now instead.

* * *

Felicia Roper wrote the above poem in 1935 and submitted it to the Headington Poetry Competition in 2003
Oxford Mail
, 6 December 2003: “Prize for poem after 68 years

The advertisement below (dating from 1937) advertises the houses of St Leonard’s Road and Margaret Road that were built in the Quarry Field. These two new roads had the effect of joining the villages of Quarry and New Headington.

Quarry Field advertisement


Headington Revisited (Mary Parke)

A quiet village once, but now instead
The place we know. Did quarry men foresee
When digging out the stone, what lay ahead?
The farmers too and men whose industry
Gave form to Headington: if they could tread
The ground again and view their legacy
Would what they see impress or horrify?
Might they see changes which would make them cry?

Where are the quarries where men worked all day?
And orchards rich with fruit? Are they there still?
Where are green fields where children used to play?
Where once the sheep and cattle grazed their fill –
The farmers glanced and quickly looked away –
A splodge of buildings sprawl across the hill.
The quarrymen looked closely for their stone:
There’s nothing there that they would care to own.

The quarrymen and farmers turned and fled.
They did not wait to hear the students say
That Headington is certainly not dead.
Then others said, “There’s parks and space to play
And work for all — it’s very go-ahead:
It will survive, there is no other way.”
So many buildings where there once was land
But even yet the hospitals expand!


Spoiled For Choice (B.M. Landon)

It must be so confusing,
When one is trying to choose,
Which charity shop to go to,
For that part-used pair of shoes.

Try some on in one shop,
Try some on in that;
Then try a dress a cardigan,
Jacket and a hat.

Maybe a picture for a friend,
Or a jigsaw for a niece;
It might be all complete,
Except the vital corner piece.

You’ve got all your gifts,
Chosen the clothes,
But forgotten the bedsocks,
For your cold icy toes.

Must have a lampshade or two.
A pack of cards,
Some dominoes,
And a game of Buckaroo.

Just too many charity shops
To pick and to choose,
When you only went out
For a part-used pair of shoes.

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