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McCarthy Stone, Stratford, resident Joe gets poetical for lockdown competition

It’s been a challenging time for us all over the last year, but Stratford man Joe Nash was able to turn this time into something positive as he reignited a former passion – poetry.

During the first lockdown, Joe entered a poetry competition organised by retirement developer McCarthy Stone, which challenged homeowners at its developments across the UK to write a poem on the theme of the pandemic.

Joe Nash (43986727)
Joe Nash (43986727)

Joe, who lives at McCarthy Stone’s Harvard Place retirement living development in Stratford, took the opportunity to write This land we know as England.

He said: “Writing has always been one of my favourite hobbies and I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. In fact I used to contribute towards Rotary magazine.

“When I heard about the poetry competition, it was the perfect opportunity to put my writing skills back to the test. I have lived in many different places and often take inspiration from all the wonderfully different scenes they offer, so I thought, why not help to bring some of them to life at a time when people are unable to get out and about as much to see them for themselves?”

Out of 250 poems submitted by McCarthy Stone homeowners, Joe’s This land we know as England was one of 15 shortlisted entries.

Michael Bird, a writer and art historian who judged the competition, said: “Poetry must be about the best possible antidote to isolation – a poem is a kind of conversation with yourself that speaks to other people, whether you’re in the room with them or not.

“Writing on the theme of the pandemic was quite a challenge – it has changed all our lives so suddenly and made the future feel like having to learn to walk again. I suppose I was expecting this theme to result in predominantly dark, melancholy poems. I was wrong. The poems covered the whole spectrum of feelings about our strange new world of social isolation, but there was lots of humour and optimism, and a real sense of putting this crisis into perspective.”

Joe added: “I really hope my poem brings joy to all those reading it and that it helps to offer a welcome distraction from everything else that is going on.”

This land we know as England

This land we know as England,

each and every part,

every sod, each grain of sand

nestles in my heart.

The rugged hills of Yorkshire,

Cumbrian Lakes and Fells.

What could more inspire

than the cathedral down at Wells?

The Cotswolds and the Severn Vale

with Sabrina flowing by;

a no more lovely gentle scene

wherever you may try.

North and South, East and West

from Devon to The Broads;

of all the world’s great wonders,

England strikes the chords.

Historic Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain,

Sussex boasts its Downs –

these glorious counties really gain

the jewel in the crown.

The village greens of England

with ducks and swans and geese;

they are our national treasure brand

of gentle, tranquil peace.

I love to live in England

with its hills, its lakes, its Wolds,

where around every corner

its magical scene unfolds.

My life will end in England –

a peaceful place to rest,

and where, for me, this England

is far away the best.

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