Why is a pen magic? Read this poem with kids and find out

The Thin Prison was written by Welsh poet Leslie Norris and perfectly encapsulates the excitement and magic of unleashing words from a pen. I looked at this today with a large group of Year 4’s (in a school that borders Nairobi National Park and apparently they often have warthogs wandering through the playground – how brilliant is that?). They came up with some wonderful similes to evoke unique ways of describing words, as well as their own personal responses to replace Norris’s third verse. Here’s the poem:

Hold the pen close to your ear.

Listen – can you hear them?

Words burning as a flame,

Words glittering like a tear.


Locked, all locked in the slim pen.

They are crying for freedom.

And you can release them,

Set them running from prison.


Himalayas, balloons, Captain Cook,

Kites, red brick, London Town,

Sequins, cricket bats, large brown

Boots, lions and lemonade – look,


I’ve just let them out!

Pick up your pen, and start,

Think of the things you know – then

Let the words dance from your pen.

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