Monday, November 16, 2020

Sick poetry

I don't have a copy of this book in hand yet, but following my uncle's advice I did look up Le Ton Beau de Marot and we read a few translations of the poem "A une Damoyselle Malade" and discussed the differences between the translations (ignoring the rhyme scheme for the the literal translation, and so forth) and then tackled writing a poem in the same form.

Zoë and Benjamin really struggled with the idea of a couplet expressing an idea (or, even harder in this case, an idea split between couplets) but they really nailed the rhyming thing. 

Zoë's poem was...rhyme-y...but didn't make much sense.

We have a cat
And things like that.
Like a spider
And cider
And cockroaches
And approaches
And webs
And ebbs.


Let me explain her thought process as far as I understand it. We have a cat (true) but we also have a jorō spider that we caught from off our front porch. Cider rhymes with spider. The cat caught a cockroach, played with it for a bit, and left it for dead (sometimes she eats them and sometimes she doesn't) so we fed the freshly-maimed cockroach to the spider, who was very grateful (I assume that because she's eating it, not because I know how a spider shows gratitude). Approaches rhymes with cockroaches! Spiders make webs! Ebbs rhymes with webs! POETRY!

Benjamin's attempt was similarly catastrophic.

COVID's bad
Must I add
Zoom is good
Doctors save
Sick people
For their work.

He started out strong and then fizzled out and asked if he could write haikus instead.

LEGO is fun so
I built a robot this year
It is very fun

Math is hard and fun
So is multiplication
I am in 3rd grade

And apparently that's all I'm getting out of him today, but he's doing his math without complaining so we'll take what we can get.

I expected—and got—more from the older girls. Since "A une Damoyselle Malade" was written for a sick child, we kept the theme of sickness, but wrote about COVID (because we're still in the middle of a global pandemic, by the way). The poem also needed 28 lines in 14 couplets. The couplets, however, needed to divide our ideas so the last half of the first couplet was the first part of the second couplet...like this A AB BC CD). The last line needed to echo the first line. Each line needed 3 syllables. And, if possible, the writer should slip their name into the poem (Rachel and I failed to do so).

Here's Miriam's:

Oh COVID.
I don't kid
How you're here,
Causing fear,
Small virus,
Killing us,
How we err.
"It's not fair!"
They all say
Every day
"Wearing masks"
Please don't ask
Joe Biden
For the win
Distancing 
Face-timing
Don't go out
And about
It's still March
Our case arch
Flatten curves
They have nerves
"Miriam—
Won't you come?"
Not today
I will say
'Cause COVID.
Oh, COVID.

Here's Rachel's:

Oh, COVID
We have hid
Some cannot.
Grave's their lot.
Sick in bed
Feeling dread
Intubated
Sedated
Sorest throat
Work's remote
Loss of smell
Coughing spells
Food's expired
So tired
Bad fevers
Some seizures
Brave doctors
Waiting rosters.
Who will die?
Who will survive?
We don't know
Cases grow
Deadly virus
Killing us
Stay inside
Please decide
To wear a mask
A simple task.
Germs forbid,
Oh, COVID.

And here's mine:

Please back off.
If you cough
You'll disgrace
Our airspace
With your germs.
Can of worms—
"Wear a mask"
Leaves intact
Liberty.
History
Shows us that
We can flat-
ten our curve.
Let's observe
Distancing. 
Crippling
Social spheres
Leaves us here—
Breathing, live.
More survive
If we just
Do what must
Be done. Friends—
Bitter ends
Are not worth
Fleeting mirth.
Did you cough?
Please back off.

I wish it had ended up a little more lighthearted and a little less preachy, and Rachel and I failed to work our names into the poem. But, for rough drafts, they're not bad. Tomorrow I think I'm going to challenge the kids to translate a poem into another language. That should be a fun train wreck!

(Miriam's probably got enough German under her belt to do this, but I don't think Rachel or Benjamin know enough of their chosen foreign language to really attempt this, so we'll have to work together).

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