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Humphry Davy

1778 – 1829

Humphry’s Bright Idea

This exercise frees your imagination through the telling of tall tales.

The brown paper parcel contains hundreds of letters about the invention of this lamp:

The lamp was designed to allow miners to do their job in greater safety. It kept the naked flame apart from explosive coal gas underground, and so greatly reduced horrible explosions, injuries and deaths.

Davy was inspired to invent the lamp after reading the report on the Felling colliery disaster in 1812 below. You can read more about this on Davy’s biography page and also on The Royal Institution’s webpage

The brown paper parcel

Felling colliery disaster report

Look closely at the pictures of the lamp.

Tell some lies about the lamp, e.g. ‘the lamp likes to keep itself to itself’; ‘the lamp is a sieve for nightmares’; ‘the lamp squeaks if you blow on it’; ‘the lamp smells of pepper’; ‘the lamp is always 108 degrees Centigrade’…

Try to use all your senses.

Now read this poem by Flora de Falbe, Five things about the lake

1. The lake is no slave to fashion, but she is proud of her frothy skirt of trees. Her dark, svelte figure.
2. She doesn’t want to talk. The air rushes over her, whistling how have you been? – and she responds with a glassy stare.
3. The lake raises an eyebrow when she is speckled with rain. She doesn’t do anything else but the rain takes the hint.
4. When the lake picks out her foliage she does so with impeccable taste. Even the fallen leaves have agreed on a colour scheme.
5. The lake enjoys being looked at (though she wouldn’t admit it). She likes that I’m writing this.

Use this poem to develop your ‘lies’ about the lamp.

Write your own list poem, titled ‘Five things about the lamp’.

What to do next?

Send us your work

We’d love to see your work from this workshop. Send it in using the link below.

Submit your work

Take a look at the closing workshop

The closing workshop is entitled: Closing Exercise

View closing workshop
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