English 10: Writing Portfolio


Catholic Memorial High School



Creative Writing  

Dear Mr. Graham Mort Hello. My name is Graham Madden. I am a sophomore at Catholic Memorial High School in Boston, Massachusetts. This year for English class I am studying British literature. I am very involved in writing in my school community by writing for the school newspaper. I play baseball, and I compete in forensics, which is public speaking and debate. I came across your name while looking at a large list of British authors and became interested in you because you have the same name as I (Graham). I then looked you up online and I realized that you have written for the British Broadcasting company, this made me even more interested in you as an author because I have heard bits and pieces of BBC radio before. After some research and some reading I decided to write you, so that is one of the reasons why you are reading this letter. I have just recently read your poem Cuba Libre at the Café Espana. I had trouble understanding it at first like most new things but after re-reading it I came to like it. I like reading poetry a lot because there are so many different ways to interpret poetry, and everyone has a different idea of what a poem means. I think it is hard to understand or even think about a poem if you do not exercise your imagination. In a way you taught me that because in your poem you write “What unifies the poems - like any set of personal, historical or political events - is not their order on the page, real time, or the narrator's insistence, but your imagination.” I became even more interested in your writing after I read that poem and since then have read some of your other works such as; sky burial, and, into the ashes. Through research I noticed that three of the eight awards you have won since 1996 were at the Arvon International Poetry Competition. This caught my eye because I have heard about this contest many times before. I also am very interested in “crossing borders” I have read a lot about it over the past couple of weeks. Like myself I can guess that you love to travel since you have been to Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. It sounds like “crossing borders” has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for you as you have been able to travel to such places. Graham, every day we do the same thing in English class. Although British Literature is one of my favorite classes at sometimes it can get a little boring just reading out of the text book. I would like to invite you to come to our class and to do a reading, because I think my class like myself would really be interested in your works and what you have to say about being a professional author. I hope that my classmates and I will not miss out on an opportunity to learn about a British poet and his style of writing, and not have to bury our foreheads in the textbook and continue to move forward on our journey back to Beowulf. Please write back with a time that you would be able to stop by and I will let you know how our classes schedule looks as well. Best Regards, Graham Madden






























“The Bells of Aberdovey” is a cultural song that explores the history and culture of Aberdovey. In North Wales there is a city called Merionethshire, and in that city there is a small village called Aberdovey. Aberdovey is home to 3,208 people and sits on the North bank of Dyfi estuary. “The Bells of Aberdovey” is a song that has been around for a long time in Welch history and is known as a great old Welch folksong. The year the song was written and the composer are unknown, but lyrics to the song were written by John Ceiriog.

Ceiriog was born in Wales in 1832 and died in 1887. He was a famous poet who was also well known for collecting folksongs. He also wrote the song “David of the White Rock”. “The Bells of Aberdovy” was first heard without lyrics in 1785 in Charles Dibdin’s play Liberty Hall. I believe that every song in the world has a meaning, I believe that authors, musicians and poets don’t just sit down and write. They need to have a reason for why they are writing that song, and Bells of Aberdovey is no exception.

The Song, “The Bells of Aberdovey” refers to the legend of a kingdom that was submerged under the waters of Cardigan Bay. The legend says that the bells are so loud and beautiful that they can be heard ringing beneath the water. Ceiriog in his lyrics gives us an idea of the sound of the bells when he says ,“It's one, two, three, four, five and six…Sing the Bells of Aberdovey.” Through these words he tells us that they sing to the people and there are six beats. This line is repeated many times over the course of the song which is also shows a pattern in the way the bells are ringing.

I have read the lyrics to the song many times and I have come to the conclusion that this is simply a love song. Many people may interpret this song differently but I believe that the singer in the song is saying, as long as the bells are ringing I will love you. The fourth stanza of the song seems to imply this with the words, “If your love is just as true, as this love I have for you, it's one two three four five and six from the bells of Aberdovey”. In the chorus the singer is saying that the bells will tell his special someone how much he is in love with her because the bells of Aberdovey are forever ringing as will the singer’s love be for his lover.

I am almost positive that if you asked ten people in Aberdovey, or even in Wales at least eight of them would have heard of this song. I did not conduct a survey in Wales, but I conducted one at Catholic Memorial High School. In my survey zero out of ten students I asked said that they had never heard of the song “Bells of Aberdovey”. The survey indicates that this song is not well known in the Catholic Memorial community. This is most likely because it is a Welch folk song, and it was written during the 1800s which is way before our time. The Bells of Aberdovey is a very historical and interesting song, specific to a particular country and culture. Many people who don’t live outside of Aberodvey probably have noheard of it. There are no modern versions created for this song, but if there was it would most likely be more popular to the younger generation.

When John Ceiriog sat down to write his song “Bells of Aberdovey” he knew exactly what he was writing about and the message he was sending. He was writing a song that would tell the world about the culture and the history of the little town in North Wales. Ceiriog writes about the beautiful sweet sounding bells that echo along the Welch coastline. Although “Bells of Aberdovey” is a great culture song there is a story says that the bells can be heard from the oceans floor. This is heard as both myth and legend in Whales. There is a message in every song especially in “Bells of Aberdovey”, you just have to find it.



























In today’s world people take language for granted. They speak the words and they may even listen to the words, but do they think about language and the depth of the words? People do not realize that language is a necessity in our society. The English language is spoken all over the world and it continues to grow rapidly. Language is truly a remarkable thing, and it is unbelievable when you think about how people all over the world can communicate through words. One English word is “desire”. The word desire helps make the world a better place because it drives people to want something more in life and to achieve their dreams.

In a survey that I conducted about the word “desire”, Virginia Donnelly who speaks English as her first language said “desire is a deep longing for something”. Another English first language speaker, and English teacher, Taylor Madden said, “ desire is the burning passion to want something”. Xu Nan, an English language learner ,from Beijing, China said, “desire is to want something that you can’t have”. This survey was interesting and demonstrated that people from different parts of the world know this word.

The definition for the word desire according to The American Heritage dictionary, fourth edition is,” to wish or long for”. This is probably the most basic definition for the word while other dictionaries such as The Merriam Webster’s dictionary of law define it as, “to wish for earnestly”. The World Net Dictionary defines “desire” as “the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state”. There are many different definitions for the word “desire” but most of them have similar meanings.

The Oxford English Dictionary is another great source that I used to research the word. The Oxford English Dictionary has every word ever written in literature in the English language. The OED also cites when the word was first used and all the works in which that it has appeared. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “desire” first appeared in literature in 1230 in Hali Meid , which is a middle English piece of literature by an anonymous author. The first sentence reads “ Ant penne wile… pe king of alle kingess desire be to leofman”. In this sentence the word means, to wish for, to long for, covet or crave.

“Desire” is a word that can have a positive effect on the world. It can drive people to achieve their goals and give them the opportunity to want something more in their life. An example of this is Martin Luther King Jr., who grew up a poor black child but had the desire to do something about the way society treated him. The desire Dr. King had lead to the civil rights movement, and helped free hundreds of thousands of slaves. He did not quit his protesting even when his life was threatened because he had the desire to keep his dream alive, and our world is better today because of him. “Desire” may also hurt the world if people will do anything to satisfy a desire. That could be dangerous. In the case of Hitler, his desire became a disaster. His desire was to take over Europe and create his idea of an ideal nation. He attempted to eliminate all the non Germans.

In conclusion “desire” is one of the most meaningful words in the English language. Originally written in Middle English it is a very old word that has survived many years of translation with out changing. Since it’s birth in 1230 the word “desire” has appeared in literature many times, such as Tennyson’s classic poem Of Old Sat Freedom On The Heights. One would think that one word such as “desire” does not have a great impact on the language, but that is why the English language is so interesting. It is millions of sounds put together to make conversation. English is a very interesting language that continues to fill out world with excitement everyday.