MICHAELMAS MATILDA 2020

A new Downside tradition!

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity…

Hilaire Belloc‘s cautionary verse Matilda, which he wrote in 1907, has now become a new Downside tradition – the Michaelmas Matilda (or the MM for short!). Every year on National Poetry Day (1st October) our First Formers will be challenged to learn the poem and perform it for fellow pupils and staff.

The choice of the poem is not random: Belloc‘s son, Louis (C1915), attended Downside and his grandson, Dom Philip Jebb, was a monk and Head Master here.

As you might know, the First Form couldn’t wait until next year’s National Poetry Day and so performed Matilda this afternoon in front of the Head Master, fellow pupils and other members of staff. Despite masks and a short preparation window, the pupils performed the poem with much enthusiasm and expression. Well done!