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WW2 Poetry The Companion

We were given extracts from a narrative poem, 'The Companion' by Yevgeny Yevtushenko  and made inference. about character, setting and emotion based on what we learn about ‘the girl’. Following this we sketched the girl - imagining how she may look based on our inferences before having a go at a taster draft.

We then used the poem and our current class reader 'Once' by Morris Gleitzman as our inspiration to create our own narrative poems depicting the journey of Zelda and Felix across war-torn Poland.



She was lying on the burnt, bloody grass,

A round bruise on the left of her forehead.

The house beaming beside her,

Drying my tears.

Her parents had passed.

No holes had appeared in her pajamas,

I rolled her over, she woke.

I’d no idea what to do with her,

And how I would tell her about her parents.


Zelda was her name. She was six.

I crouched down and carried her on my back to the hay stacks,

Creating beds for us to lay in.


The world was big and we were not big,

And it was tough for us to walk across it.

She had slippers on making her feet warm.

I, however had a pair of wet and cold, second – hand boots.

Footsteps were beginning to louden,

They came closer and closer.

“I want my mummy and daddy!” she cried.

“Be quiet, do you hear?” I warned her.

Caught by the Nazis was what we were,

Being forced to walk on the gravel path.

More blisters were appearing on my feet,

After every step I took.

The child was feeble,

I was certain of it.

“Where are we going?” she’d say “I’m tired” she’d say.

The poor girl had no idea what was happening.


Falling bodies scattered around us,

Creating horrible memories in our heads.

“Can you tell me a story” she innocently said.

“Once there was a gorilla,” I began.

“No. Don’t you know anything?!” exclaimed Zelda.

Silence filled the farm.

“What’s the matter with you. Why won’t you talk?” she asked.

I was too busy thinking about how excited my parents will be when they see me!


Someone dropped next to me,

I tried to distract Zelda.

I began to get dizzy,


Suddenly, I woke up in a basement,

A man towering over me.

Where was I?

 Who was he?

“It’s ok, this man is going to take care of us.”  Zelda comforted me.

Younger children surrounded us.


I stood up and walked without thinking of,

Nazi soldiers and crying mothers, under the hopeless skies of 42.

Making me wonder when it will stop.


She was laying on the smoldering greenery,

The only survivor of the cruel assault,

Her pink pyjamas now stained with ash,

She was breathing, I could sense it.

 An occasional spark floated past

skimming through the girl’s hair

before fading from existence

I glanced at her dead parents

feeling alone in this world.


Zelda was her name. She was six

The only option was to take her with me,

But certainty rapidly dissolved into doubt.

Yet I couldn’t leave her here

I carried her to safety

and we drifted to sleep in a haystack.


I was violently shaken awake the next morning.

“Am I dead?” I mumbled

“No you’re not,” came the reply,

“Don’t you know anything?”

A single gunshot silenced us both,

Then came marching and screaming

My eyes were glued to the tragic scene.

Zelda cried out behind me.


I spun around to see a Nazi soldier

he was pointing a machine gun to Zelda’s head.

With a sharp movement of his wrist

he signaled us to join the march.

That’s when we realized.

The Nazis had power, while we had none.

Every ounce of energy I could muster

seemed to make no difference.


“Tell me a story! The one about the boy in the castle!”

The voice penetrated my daydream.

So I told her the story. All over again.

On and on, we walked without rest

passing gunshots, passing bodies in ‘42


Everyone deserves something good in their life

at least,




She was laying on the ashen ground, a flaming house crumbling behind her, the corpses of her parents by her side.                                      

She was wearing nothing but fluffy pyjamas and slippers, her eyes shut blearily. Zelda was her name.

She was six.

Lying unconscious on her side, a purple-black bruise swelling on her head like a grumpy storm cloud.

The blood and soot underfoot was a deep garnet, mashed together like shadowy flakes of death.

I’d had to save her – this sort of thing always happened in my stories.

We were hiding until we were found. The Nazis frog marched us to the city with hundreds of others.


You know when you have to carry a six-year-old orphan for miles and miles telling her stories? That’s what happened to me. A man with a Nazi suit slapped a wrinkly lady on her back.

“Come on, Jew. March, do you hear?”

The path was big and we were not big, and it was hard for me to keep my mind off it.

We forded streams and hopped over collapsed bodies.

“Once,” I told Zelda “A girl called Zelda and a boy named William went to the city and ate tons of cakes.”

 The child was hard to distract, that I was sure of. “Why are they on the floor?” she’d ask. “Why is that man crying? Don’t you know anything?”

We’d be there in no time, I was certain of it, but as it turned out, when we were there, a Nazi grabbed her.

 The Nazi growled at her, but a man stood up suddenly beside him.

His name was Barney. He was kind. Not only did he save us, but he took me and Zelda in.

He told me that everyone should have something good in their life.

At least ONCE.

I awoke to Zelda panting, her skin white hot. “I’ve got a fever,” She said casually, “Don’t you know anything?”

“Honestly, you big boys, you never get anything right.”

Then out I went amongst the grey buildings, collecting her medicine in a few hours.

Constant fear was telling me to find my parents, but then the Nazis came, guns sticking out their pockets.

You know when Nazi book burners scrape together Jews and cram them into a smelly, rotting train?

That’s what happened to me.

So on and on we rode the crumbling freight smashing at walls without thinking of rest,

 People jumping out of holes, people getting shot,

Under the sky of a horrible new world where I fell out of a train,   

Tottering crazy, lying on my side next to Zelda, who was lying on her side next to a friend, who jumped out too,

 Believing everyone should have something good in their lives.

At least ONCE.

So on and on I laid there,

A boy who Once believed,

Before all the bloodshed and hatred,

Three years and eight months ago,

 That everything was fine, and his parents would come back, Once the war was over. Once, it was safe in an orphanage.

Once, I had thought that.














She was laying in the remnants of her house,

her bedtime shoes strapped on slapdash when I found her,

and an unusual bruise throbbing in the middle of her forehead,

All alone.

Her eyes - and mine – were brimming with tears of pain.

Her parents had died – little did she know.

Picking her up, I walked on and on,

finally, after hours I laid her down in a haystack.

Soon she awoke telling me who she was.

Zelda was her name. She was six.

‘Don’t you know anything?’ she’d say,

‘Where are my parents?’ she’d say.

Knowing the answer to this, my doubt of if mine wee dead too, quickly my doubt became certainty,

but the world was so big and yet we were not, I didn’t know what to do.

‘I’m going to find our parents’ I replied.

And so we went under the fiery glaze of ’42,

passing houses and fields,

and along the way a large group of people passed,

all led by Nazi soldiers.

Zelda. Where is she?

I looked around and saw her,

her clothes still on slapdash – probably ruffled by the Nazi soldier pointing a machine gun at her head,

‘Don’t harm her,’ I said ‘We’re looking for our parents’ I said.

Whilst saying this a man came from amongst the crowd,

Courage and pride drained from me,

A fuzzy haze appeared over my eyes,

Several words were spoken,

And then the officer glanced away and walked off.

Suddenly a waterfall of vomit came from my mouth,

A fuzzy haze once again appeared over my eyes,

And then I fell unconscious.

I awoke only to find Zelda – who was still dressed in tattered clothes

‘Felix! How are you?’

‘Where are we Zelda?’

‘Safe from the horror of the Nazis’ she replied.

I gazed around, still dazed,

Crumbling walls with crevices was the room’s surroundings,

 Children behind Zelda stared half angry, half bewildered,

‘Who are they?’ I asked.

‘Children who were also saved from death’ Zelda said shakily,

This worsened my condition, making me fall into an incredibly long sleep.

When I soon awoke again, I found myself dragged to my feet by Nazis.

Where were we being dragged to? I asked myself.

Not long after this terrifying period, I saw Zelda - although I didn’t dare call to her.

We were being taken to a train station to be travelled to a concentration camp.

Along the train journey I knew what I needed to do.


We bashed against the boards eventually breaking them.

For what seemed like an eon we stood on the edge of the train, waiting to jump.

And finally we did.

Sadly only two of us survived to tell the tale.

Zelda and I.

 The other companion was to be left in peace.





A girl was lying next to her dead parents.

Her clothes were only pyjamas.

Her slippers with their soles in them.

She had a big bruise on her head.

A sparkle flamed now and then.

Growing and dying every second.

There was fire and ashes everywhere.

It went flying all around the house.

All because the Germans set flame to the house.


Zelda was her name. She was six.

I’d have no idea to tell if she woke up.

But doubt my mum and dad thinking I’d show up alone, I took her.

I knew I had to take her under my wing.

She in some sense was still alive.

A girl like her couldn’t be left.

There were droning and soldiers gunshots.

I touched the little girl in her pulse.

“Hello are you alive?”



The world was big and we trembled across it.

She had slippers and I had stolen boots.

We went and got to a hay-stack.

Each off my feet ached every time I stood.

Taking a step I carefully tremble.

The child was hungry I was certain of it.

“Don’t you know anything” she’d say “tell me a story” She’d say.

She’d be hungry I no time I was certain of it.

But as things turned it was I who collapsed.  

I snarled I wasn’t going any further.

And sat down suddenly beside the haystack.

“Come on you boy” she said

“Don’t you know anything” she’d say

“You know I want food” she said

I just sat down I couldn’t do anything.

“Just rest” I said

I sat restless.

Then I heard a scream.

Gun at her head was a solider.

Death was in my mind.

“Please don’t hurt her I don’t like books!” I’d repeat.

For fear of her death I screamed inside my body.

Holes grew in my boots.


So then

We walked without stops nor rest.

Passing corpses and flames.

Under the sky of bombs.

Trembling into smoke.




She was lying on the burnt ash grass

her pyjamas fitting perfectly

around her body,

her eyes closed with unconsciousness.

Unaware of

what had happened.

Her parents were gone. She was an orphan.

he got cut off from everything

and slowly picked her up.

Zelda was her name. She was six.

He had no idea what he could do about her,

but quickly figured it out:

he’d have to take her under his wing;

-girls were in some sense annoying,

but she couldn’t be left.

The girl slowly woke

And yelled at him,

‘I’m hungry. Do you hear me? I’m hungry’

people were cruel and we were not cruel,

and it was tough to watch.

She had slippers on and,

He had a pair of stolen boots.

They saw people crying and walking;

across streets and roads

they walked hoping to stop.

The girl was weak, he was certain of it.

‘Don’t you listen?’ she’d say. ‘I’m hungry’ she’d say.

She’d start yelling in no time he was certain of it,

But as things turned out it was he who started yelling.

She growled, she wasn’t going any further

and she sat down suddenly on a log.

‘What’s wrong?’ he said.

‘Don’t cry’.

‘Do you want something to eat?’

‘Hold this, it is a carrot’.

‘You can have it’.

‘Come on, lets go!’

Then they were at the station,

they all started boarding.

People talking and crying:

And loudly passing by.

The train started. The train whistled.

On and on the train went.

Until, finally.

They jumped without thinking,

passing gunshots, passing body’s

under the rocking sky of ’42,

vibrating the ground beneath.




She was collapsed on the burning rubble,

Her slippers too small for her, pushed on her feet,

With knitted pyjamas tearing at the seams,

Throbbing on her forehead was a dark purple bruise

The occasional pile of rubble scattered down, clinking against the broken metal,

The souls of her slippers wearing thin,

While the rattle of gunfire pounded in our ears,


Zelda was her name, she was six,

I’d no idea what to do with her,

Until my worry gradually faded to certainty,

I would have to take this poor girl into my care,

I had to, as, she was human and humans couldn’t just be left,

I leaned down and lifted her onto my back,

I blinked and a burning tear trickled down my cheek,

The world held what we did not hold,


We paced through fired and dead grass,

She seemed weak, her skin as cold as ice,

Her eyes fluttered open and she slowly gained consciousness,

‘My feet hurt’ she’d say ‘Don’t you know anything?’ she’d say,

We were tired, exhausted even,

My legs couldn’t take much more,

Nazi guards edged closer and a gun was aimed at Zelda,

We walked, every step being more painful as we slipped away from the Nazi guards and ran,

Under the fierce sky of ‘42