Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Some poetry

The kids and I tried our hand at some poetry the other day. I wanted to do something a little more fun and seasonal with them, trying to remember that while I might be super interested (and thus entertained) by all the book learning we're doing, and recognizing that I am never really the life of the party, my children probably need to some more traditional fun in thrown in the mix.

And one of the characteristics of poetry is that it's "fun" to read.

Benjamin told me this (and it checks out because when I was doing some background research for our lesson this characteristic kept popping up as well, though I don't know that all poetry is fun to read). He wanted to write a haiku first:

Orange, red, yellow
Leaves of maples fall off trees
Brown sap dripping off trees

Then he drew a tree and in the treetops he wrote:

I really
love to
rake in the fall
and jump
in the huge piles

And lastly he wrote this (which I think may have been inspired by Percy Jackson, but I'm not really sure because I haven't read the series):

Zeus is a happy guy and
He powers our e-cars.

We've been talking a lot about the environment this week (having finished discussing life cycles we've moved onto other reducing, reusing, recycling) and I think that's where the e-cars came in...maybe...though Zeus? I mean...I dunno. Thunderbolts = Electricity. Who knows what he was thinking when he wrote this?

Miriam joined Benjamin in a haiku (I think they were brainstorming a bit for this):

Orange, red, yellow
Leaves fall off the dying trees
Brown, red, yellow leaves

Then Miriam drew a picture of a leaf and around it she wrote:

rake the leaves when they fall off trees. Yes, please! I love to

It kind of just runs around the leaf like that, but I think it's meant to say:

Yes, please! I love to rake the leaves when they fall off trees.

I just have a hard time starting reading it at the right place.

Lastly she wrote a halloween poem:

Blue, green, red.
Slime of blue and leaves of red.
Brown, green yellow.
Tree of brown and eyes of yellow
Orange blue, green.
Pumpkins orange and goo of green.
Scare cackle, mean

I wrote a free verse:

All at once, it seems,
Before I notice the 
Coming chill, the tired
Trees know and drop 
Their chameleon-inspired
Foliage. Green to red,
Yellow, orange, the leaves 
Dance to the ground,
Then turn to brown,
Become a compost carpet,
ready to feed mother tree
In the spring.

And then I wrote a limerick as well:

In fall when the weather turns blustery
The leaves all blow off of the lush trees.
They fly into the air
Leaving all the trees bare
To shiver in winter's effrontery.

Our writing prompt this morning wasn't poetic, but I pulled a rather ancient book of poetry off the shelf and selected a poem to read and discuss with the children. It's from a book that belonged to Delsa Smithson—my children's great-grandmother—when she was a girl. Her name is written on the inside cover. Or several covers, to be exact. It's an incomplete set that we found and adopted when we were going through Karen's things. They're fairly old (101 years, to be exact) and I suppose it's not entirely important that we have the actual books because they're available online, but we do have them and it's kind of fun for the kids to know that these are the very same books their great-grandmother once read (in addition to reading a poem we also pulled out our family history for a minute).

Anyway, I just flipped to a poem and had the kids read it aloud (Miriam the first two stanzas, Benjamin the next two, and then I took the very last one) and thought it was so lovely:

Suppose (by Phoebe Cary)

Suppose, my little lady
Your doll should break her head;
Could you make it whole by crying
Till your eyes and nose were red?
And wouldn't it be pleasanter
To treat it as a joke,
And say you're glad 'twas dolly's
And not your own that broke?

Suppose you're dressed for walking,
And the rain comes pouring down;
Will it clear off any sooner
Because you scold and frown?
And wouldn't it be nicer
For you to smile than pout,
And so make sunshine in the house
When there is none without?

Suppose your task, my little man,
Is very hard to get;
Will it make it any easier
For you to sit and fret?
And wouldn't it be wiser,
Than waiting like a dunce,
To go to work in earnest
And learn the thing at once?

Suppose that some boys have a horse,
And some a coach and pair;
Will it tire you less while walking
To say, "It isn't fair"?
And wouldn't it be nobler
To keep your temper sweet,
And in your heart be thankful
You can walk upon your feet?

Suppose the world don't please you.
Nor the way some people do;
Do you think the whole creation
Will be altered just for you?
And isn't it, my boy or girl,
The wisest, bravest plan,
Whatever comes, or doesn't come,
To do the best you can?

We then looked up Phoebe Cary and it turns out she was quite the little poet and lived her life by the message in this poem. She was largely self-taught—after all her chores at home were done—and her step-mother, who didn't support Phoebe's academic ventures (nor her sister's) wouldn't let them use candles after dark so she did her studies using a makeshift oil lamp.

And has several publish anthologies to show for it!

She also was the editor for Susan B. Anthony's newspaper Revolution for a short time, so was quite the feminist.

Anyway, the moral of this poem came up several times over the course of the day and seemed to resonate with the children, so I imagine we'll be recalling it some more in the coming days.


  1. Wonderful poetry! And a great poem to learn to live by, that Phoebe Cary piece!