Helen Sparrow — Ode to Pain (5th grade)

When Helen Sparrow’s fifth grade English teacher told her class to write odes as part of a creative writing unit, the put-upon tween wasn’t content to wax poetic about her mom or honeybees. Instead, she went the John Keats route and wrote a touching ode to pain.

Pain, you knock me down

A million times over

And your wicked fingers plug my tears

So crying is an effort in vain as you stab me eternally.


I writhe and wince as I lie;

The haze of death blows ‘round me.

Seeing double, aching all over;

Doom is inevitable; I can’t go on!


My throat is so sore, coated with deadly phlegm.

Escape is impossible, with seemingly no cure.

And this disease, the most horrid of them all,

Is one you cannot be immune to, but must forever see.


Pain, you are an evil beast,

Killing us all off.

You’ve taken my life ten thousand times;

Who will you slaughter next?

Helen Sparrow is an unabashed tea snob who lives and writes in Dayton, Ohio. Though she previously worked as an editor for the literary magazine The Germ, these days she takes her pent-up energy out on her Quiz Bowl buzzer. Her rabid attempts at being totally antisocial have left her without a Twitter handle and the pleasure of having seen Star Wars.