Hello! I read this poem quite a while ago already, shortly after the competition for which it was written. I have respect for you for managing to write such a long poem; I know it has been hard as I have written a poem myself for that competition.
And I quite like your poem, especially the message you convey, with the houses having to stand together in unity to not let evil enter into Hogwarts. In the parts that were a requirement of the competition, you have presented the message of unity very well and it’s really amazing that you have worked this in so smoothly. Most of all I like the Hat’s tale of the founders and their histories. It’s so true to what Rowling showed in the books, and yet still your own interpretation. Wonderfully done.
Also, the rhyming blows me away. It’s so neat and nicely worked out. I’m not sure how it is with you, but I have trouble keeping the rhyming so clean and fluent, so it amazes me even more.
I enjoyed the rhythm of the stanzas and ultimately the entire poem as well, although there were a couple of places where I stumbled over a word or line, either because it was too short or too long. For example, right in the first stanza: You start off beautifully, setting a smooth and easy to read rhythm with seven syllables, followed by a line with six syllables. This repeats which makes it flow so brilliantly. But with the line A long eleven centuries ago, you break it because it has ten syllables, too much for the set rhythm in the previous lines. Then the following line has six syllables again, so it is in-rhythm once more, but the line after that, This school came to grow, has only five syllables, which is too short and lets the reader stumble again. After that, there are the one or other lines that have too many or too few syllables, too. I find that once a certain rhythm is introduced, it’s disrupting the flow of a poem when altering the already set rhythm. I would suggest tweaking the lines that are out of rhythm to make the poem flow much better than it already does.
My main doubt is whether the Sorting Hat would sing a refrain. Sure, the songs in the books are really short in comparison to what you have written, but I can’t see the song repeating a stanza. I think it would be okay to repeat one or two stanzas once or twice, but you have one stanza appear nine times, which – in my opinion – is stretching it quite a bit. I know there was a word count, a high one for a poem, too, but I think if you had maybe shown more about the single houses like their characteristics and colours for example, the word count would have been manageable as well.
Overall, I liked this poem, but I think you could have worked a bit more on it to make it perfect.
Author's Response: Wow, great review! Thanks! ^_^ I have to admit, though, most of your criticisms come as a result of my laziness. ^^; I know the Sorting Hat probably wouldn't use a refrain, but I got frustrated with the word count, and about halfway through, it became exceedingly difficult to think of things to add to the song so I wasn't being repetitious in a worse way--just rewording stanzas that say essentially the same thing later in the song. Refrains are common, so I went ahead and used a good stanza that I thought conveyed the right meaning to tie it together, and repeated it as a refrain. I also got tired and frustrated from revising the problem lines, and just left the disturbances in the rhythm in the poem once I finished it. ^^;; I'm not usually one for poetry, I did it mainly for the challenge, and it wore greatly on my patience even imperfect as it is. But I'm really glad you enjoyed it!