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The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2012
14-and-under, commended

Read the judges’ comments
Email to request a free hard copy of the booklet (UK addresses only)
Read the winning entries from previous years


Isobel Lowe and Chloe Baker

The Crow and the Fox


A crow was chillaxing in a tree,
Holding a Babybel in its mouth.
A fox sniffed some,
And said to the crow,
'Hey, man how's it hanging?
Aren't you fit; you seem well fit to me.
No offense bruv, but
You have well buff feathers
And an epic voice.
If your voice is as sick as your feathers then you must
Be a don in the woods.'
At these words the crow was well sad,
And to show off his savage voice
He opened his big mouth and let his Babybel, like, fall.
The fox smirked and said: 'Ha, you're so gullible
Learn that all kissing up results in a fail whale!'
The crow was well cringy,
And he swore on his mum's grave that he wouldn't be
Taken for a mug again.

Translated from the French by Isobel Lowe and Chloe Baker
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Le Corbeau et le Renard


Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l'odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage:
'Hé ! bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau!
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois.'
A ces mots le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s'en saisit, et dit: 'Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute:
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute.'
Le Corbeau, honteux et confus,
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu'on ne l'y prendrait plus.

Jean de la Fontaine
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Translation commentary


We cannot remember how we came across this poem as La Fontaine is not as well known as Aesop. We guess Isobel's teacher in France must have told us to choose a fable from La Fontaine as Isobel's mum went to the trouble of actually buying the book! We suppose we chose this poem because it meant a lot to Isobel as she had to recite it in front of her class off by heart when she was on a trip to France.

We liked this poem because it has a moral to it and could teach us a lesson for later on in life. We chose to transform it into a modern form of language as it was written nearly four hundred years ago. This task was quite amusing as we chose some words we wouldn't normally use in a day to day conversation. Trying to think of some of the words made us laugh as they were unfamiliar to us.

Translating it into English was quite daunting at first because the language was quite old. As we translated the poem into the English we speak today, we managed to get to grips with the meaning of the poem and the moral included. After that it was just left to translate.

Isobel Lowe and Chloe Baker