Welcome to the found poetry challenge! Have a go at the challenge below in whatever way works for you. We would love to see your work so please share it through social media (tag @SineadKeegan and @ChawtonHouse and use the hashtag #ChawtonLitFest).

Then join us on Saturday, 16th of May at 4pm (BST) for a Facebook Live event with Sinead on the Chawton House Facebook page

Click here to see the original poems in full (after you’ve finished the exercise!)

1. Pick a number between 1 and 8

2. Go to that group and read through the lines. You may want to print them out or you can easily do this exercise by copying and pasting them into any word processor or writing app.

3. Arrange the lines into a poem. You don’t have to use them all. Don’t worry if they don’t exactly fit or make sense.

4. Go back through the lines and make any changes you want. This might be small like adding the letter ‘s’ to a word or deleting a word like ‘the’ or ‘and’. Or your edits might be larger like rearranging the word order of a line or deleting a large portion of a line.

5. Look! You’ve made a poem and you might not have written a single word. Well done…ready for a challenge?

Now that you’ve got your poetic legs and that you’ve constructed a poem let’s be brave and really go for it!

6. Go rogue. Have a look at the other groups of line – see any you like? Take them!

7. Return to your poem and add your new lines.

8. Let’s edit. This is fun bit where you play around and try different things out. Some questions you might ask yourself as you edit:

a. Do you have clear, concrete and specific images?

b. Is there a line that might work if you repeated it several times throughout the poem?

c. Do you want to join lines together? Scramble them somehow?

9. And now the hardest bit: what will you call your poem?

10. Kidding. This is the hardest bit: Share your poem with us!

a. Twitter: @chawtonhouse @sineadkeegan

b. Instagram: @chawtonhouse @sinead.keegan

c. Facebook: @chawtonhouse @sineadkeeganwriter


amidst their tall ancestral trees

the screaming sea-bird quits the troubled sea

and after that, through life’s long way

nor mid-day sun’s exhausting power

impelled by love of you

and alchemella’s lobes unfold

amply supplies the mind with food

but not alone for pleasure’s sake

your curled nose and lip awry

her crimson umbels rise

and nature’s rich array

your mouth is worn with old wives’ kissing

no fiery cloud will close your eye

we search the thicket, copse, and brake

may give a happier day

and petals spangled over

how many close their silken leaves

the parent’s boasted powers

from your poor tongue no accents come

wherever we search the scene presents


or turns to meet the morning ray

that he who runs may read

presents with sweets that never cloy

on some rude fragment of the rocky shore

from when no succour comes – or comes too late

the stately homes of England

over all the pleasant land

the deer across the greensward bound

of some rejoicing stream

the merry homes of England

around their hearths by night

or childhood’s tale is told

the noisome damp, the infectious gale

here in your radiant purple reign

how softly on their bowers

is laid the holy quietness

to aid the visual nerve of age

floats through their woods at morn

all other sounds, in that still time

by thousands on her plains


the bloom that courts the wandering bee

gliding along Killarney’s Lake

upon the summer air

have given their sweets to me

infuses root and flower

spreads desolation over the plain

and listen to the deep and solemn roar

through glowing orchards forth they peep

and fearless there the lowly sleep

each passing clown bestows his blessing

as the bird beneath their eaves

the free, fair homes of England

and fairies we defy

her clustering fringed flowers

over the dark waves the winds tempestuous howl

long, long, in hut and hall

go to your little senseless play

may hearts of native proof be reared

to guard each hallowed wall

of rich variety

and bright the flowery sod

meet in the ruddy light


its country and its God

the forest and the moor

that flourish on the rocky steep

hail! Goddess of persuasive art!

sweet harbinger of lengthening days

rare trientalis blooms and fades

no burning lava passes by

the horrid strife that dyes the ground

with human gore, and far around

exhaled along the banks of Froome

and twilight’s fairy robe is spread

we explore the vast variety

where on the fractured cliff, the billows break

the phosphorescent ray

perhaps when time shall add a few

and through the osier branches gleam

and sweetly lull to sleep

to save the embryo flowers

and feel the morning gale

with fascinating song

like the poor mariner methinks I stand

how beautiful they stand

O, let me hear your heaven-taught strain


as through my quivering pulses steal

musing, my solitary seat I take

the cottage homes of England

the mingling throbs of joy and pain

or lips move tunefully along

nor ever leave on memory’s page

to sweeten life’s decline

even then I sought the sweet perfume

which only sensate minds can feel

and all that summer yields

and yet I love you well

and round the hamlet-fanes

over the rapt sense’s finest strings

lulls to soft harmony the wandering heart

the exhilarating mountain gale

to chase the filmy clouds away

yes; I have seen you

to gaze at the unequalled show

bathe in the lucid tear

secure from Etna’s storm

her treacherous fan conceals

hides her forked sting


you twitchest at the heart

there woman’s voice flows forth in song

but still increasing pleasure give

beneath the wing

some glorious page of old

solemn, yet sweet, the church-bell’s chime

already shipwrecked by the storms of fate

your honeyed accents will prevail

touched by your voice, the melting eye

untrodden paths explore

the intellectual source is lost

of breeze and leaf are born

eager to seize the favourite flower

your pinky hand and dimpled arm

even then, the witching music of your tongue

sweet subject of the poet’s page

science, illuminating ray

and shine from pole to pole

from your accumulated store

cheiranthus decks the ruined wall

up-hoisted arms and noddling head


or abbey’s hallowed mound

and there her wasted sweets will pour

but the wild gloomy scene has charms for me

that breathes from Sabbath-hours

and at Ben-Lomond’s base

the magic of whose tuneful tongue

admire the vast intelligence

profusely over the ruined tower

on fragments piled around

eurodium – and the wise who read –

cast on a rock; who sees the distant land

they are smiling over the silvery brooks

these gems of nature’s elegance

since childhood’s playful day

by lucid streams where willows weep

and mingles want and woe

the silvery surface over

an emblem of simplicity

and claim a shelter there

and galium waves her cross of gold

and pity me when I am frail

but see, the sweepy spinning fly


science! your charms will never deceive

that innocently wakes a smile

scarlet or crimson, dark or fair

and the swan glides past them with the sound

the blessed homes of England

the velvet slope, the shady vale

closes against the approaching shower

lathyrus from Sicilian plain

of all your wondrous magic spells

when I am weak and old

shielded by you we dare inhale

now in your dazzled half-opened eye

in vain the witches’ arts assail

each from its nook of leaves

and little chin with crystal spread

poor helpless thing! what do I see

it’s with that scientific eye

until every slackened nerve newly strung

to find the hidden charm

it’s to allay the fever’s rage

with scientific lore

admired the rose’s opening bloom