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Poet Laureate returns for Speech Day

15 November 2019

We were delighted that last year’s Poet Laureate Elyanna Choi was able to return to Speech Day to present a poem written specially for the occasion. Thank you again to Elyanna for a beautifully poignant piece of writing.

'Nostos' by Elyanna Choi

But even so, I want to go back home,
and every day I hope that day will come. 
If some god strikes me down on the wine-dark sea,
I will endure it.


I know where I stand —
My feet, a shoulder width apart, heels dug deep in the sand

I said my farewells to those spirits that guided me back on safer shores
And now I tread where no man has gone before

The day is gone and now it’s time to run
Across mountains and towards horizons beyond the sun — 

I have seen what nightfall brings
And all her beasts, and harpies with sharp teeth and terror-beating wings

They came and stole us away 
Into the summer night wild and fey — 

I called for you one, two, three times into the dark
But nevertheless all I heard back where the echoes of lost skylarks

We lost touch more than once and you left me wondering what I was seeking
Under the shadow of father Orion’s belly bleeding 

To my ghosts I once prayed for release 
But now I float above old sorrows, draining back into the wine-dark sea

I am a lioness — 

From the riverbed I rise in might 
A flaming rose of Jericho unfurling, setting the mountainside alight

I come now as Jonah, cradled by the belly of the beast
In my hand I hold a torch exalted by forefathers hailing from far east

Maybe I’m a ghost too, drowned out by silence until world’s end
Wasting our time thinking about future’s portends

Preparing for wars that may never come
Singing “glory, glory glory!” until we forget our way back home

But home is a name you never forget
With all its invocations of heartache, longing, and regret

There was once a time where my spirit longed for endless battle
Instead now I am drawn to absolution’s mantle — 

For my unknown sons and daughters I sow my seeds of grace
And for my past I pay tribute to that holy place 

I suppose I’ve been away too long
And now all that remains of me are whispers in the wind of a familiar song

In time, arms of iron crumble to crimson rust
And all we are in the end is just stardust.


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