2010 winner

The Eiffel Tower by Emily Cooper

I stand astride an upright knife,

Slicing through the stormy sky,

Dappled with shrieking magpies.

My hair is whipped around my face

By the howling monster surrounding me.

I look over the biting cold rail,

Worn with the millions of hands

That have clutched it the same as I.


My eyes are drawn to the Arc de Triomphe,

Illuminated and mysterious against the drab sky.

And standing grand, proud and tall.

I stare in awe at the historic relic,

Linking old and new Paris.

The intricate sandstone carvings of yearning soldiers,

Seem to reach out to me, pleading.

From a world of silent screaming and hard hearts.


The trees dotted around the crowded street,

Sway as though they are in a trance.

The wind rustling through their leaves.

How many tales have these whisperers got?

How many would they be willing to tell?

Of battle, hardship and crime.

Their decrepit autumn leaves mesmerise me

By swirling lazily to the ground.


The old romantic city of Paris,

Glowing with life and vigour,

Yet so old,

Seems to yawn and sigh as night’s thick blanket

Muffles and suffocates me.

I hear the murmured love confessions beside me.

I hear the distant shrieking magpies.

I see Paris,





© Emily Cooper, 2010

Photos: Bryan Anderson

Copyright © 2019 Betjeman Poetry Prize   |  All Rights Reserved

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