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One blogger that I like to follow is Janssen on Everyday Reading. In that linked post, she wrote about poetry books for poetry month and reminded me that April is National Poetry Month! I thought, "What a great idea for Friday Faves! Our favorite poems!" Well, it turned out to be a more difficult task for all of us than I had anticipated! So, let me just warn you that this is not going to be one of our conventional Friday Faves!
Let's get real. Identifying a favorite poem is almost impossible. There are so many genres, there are so many topics to cover and there are so many emotions to be evoked that on any given day, any favorite may change. Plus, if someone asks you to name your favorite piece of poetry, can you think of any poems at that moment? Well, I could, because I have loved poetry all of my life. But, for everyone else I spoke to, it took a bit of thought. As Lindsey put it, "I don't know if I've ever taken the time to consider what my favorite poem is." She is probably the one of all my girls who appreciates poetry the most, so as you can see, this was a bit of a thought provoking subject today.
I told everyone I posed the Friday Fave question to that they could give me a children's poem, a more mature poem or both. Lindsey gave me both! She started with one she thought was hilarious as a child from, of course, Shel Silverstein. HIs quirky poems and way of imagining things are iconic! Here are just a couple of his books you can order for your family.
Here is Lindsey's fave:
Wavy Hair, by Shel Silverstein
As a kid, she thought this was so funny and in her book there was a picture of a guy with wavy head. Ha Ha!
Lindsey's husband Austin chose a poem by Silverstein entitled, "Ations" that is so clever! You should look it up!
The more mature poem that Lindsey has chosen, is "Do Not Go Gently Into that Good Night" by Dylan Thomas. This poem was written by Thomas when his father was going blind and dying of a terminal disease. It is a plea to fight and to live life even in the face of death. It has an even more poignant message when you realize that Dylan Thomas died a year after his father at the young age of 39. LIndsey says that this poem reminds her of the Apostle Paul when he says in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Here is a collection of his works available on Amazon. It is interesting to know that Dylan Thomas himself chose which of his works should go into this collection. (As a side note, this poem was quoted in the movie Independence Day.)
Now, Alicia, my scientist, says she finds poetry boring. I don't know how I failed her! But, she does like creepy, round-the-campfire type stories. She remembered a book she had as a child that had a creepy poem in it that started, "A woman in a graveyard sat, Oooooo, Very short and very fat, Oooooo..." I actually found that book still available on Amazon! Alicia says that she remembers reading it to her little brother Jacob when they were young and he just started cracking up! That sounds like a good review to me!
When I thought about the idea of a creepy poem, I realized that writing things in verse form can evoke powerful emotions, even fear. The message can come across more clearly as a poem than it might written just as prose. Consider this excerpt from "The Raven", by Edgar Allen Poe:
What if Poe had simply written, "One night, at midnight, I was very tired and weak. I was looking through a book and I started nodding off to sleep. Then, I heard someone rapping on my door. I figured it was a visitor and nothing else." That doesn't make the reader feel suspense or the urge to read more. The rhyme and the meter all add to the feeling that the poet wants us to feel. (By the way, this poem, "The Raven", is one of my son Tyler's favorites.)
Madalynn looked at me when I asked for a poem from her with a blank look. I handed her The Book of Virtues by William Bennett.
I was so happy when I found this book back in the 90s. It is a compilation that contains so many of the poems and stories I grew up with and they have explanations about the values or lessons that each work teaches.
The author, William Bennett served as the Secretary of Education and the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Reagan. He has a BA in philosophy, A Doctorate in political philosophy, and a Law Degree from Harvard. Currently, he is an adviser to Project Lead the Way, a provider of training and curriculum for STEM education. Like many public figures, he has been in the midst of controversy at times, but this compilation of works is a great resource. My copy is dog eared and book marked. There are works from so many of my favorite writers and poets in this book that I don't have to have copies of collections from everyone. Especially the ones that I only like a few of their writings.
Anyway, Madalynn came back to me with this poem by Emily Dickinson:
If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
This poem has a message that fits Madalynn's personality so well. She is a kind person who likes to help others. I am personally not a big Dickinson fan, (A professor in college kind of ruined her for me), but this is a nice choice. Here is a collection of her works if you are a fan:
Now, the real problem in this whole equation is what will I choose as my Friday Fave?? I love so many poems and since my childhood have memorized many. My mother used to recite and read poetry to me and share her favorites with me, many of which I found in The Book Of Virtues.
As a child I had this book by Robert Louis Stevenson:
I loved it and I memorized many of the poems in it. One that I would always recite to my children whenever we would go to the park to swing was this one:
Another poem I memorized and have recited to my children many times is by Eugene Field. It is called, "Jest 'Fore Christmas". It is much too long to put on this post, but it is a fun little poem about a boy who knows that he must behave in order to get what he wants for Christmas. Field had 8 children and many of his poems were written for children. Some were even set to song. I haven't been able to find a book that includes that poem in it, and it is one of his best works if you ask me. You can find it on line at the above link. Here is a compilation of his other work:
If I have to narrow down my choices in the more mature poetry category, then the two poets I would choose would be Robert Frost and Longfellow. I have always loved the meter and rhyme pattern of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and the beautiful picture I get in my mind as I read that poem. I love it when the little horse "gives his harness bells a shake!" In college, I memorized for a class assignment, "Mending the Wall". The lessons from those two poems have always stayed in my mind and come back to me now and again.
Longfellows works impressed me as a child and still do now. My mom read me "The Village Blacksmith" and it has always touched my heart. I think of it whenever I hear the word "chestnut". Every parent should be able to relate to the emotions of "The Children's Hour". And, who can't recite the first two lines of "Paul Revere's Ride?"
Well, as you can tell, I could go on and on. Let me encourage you to try a little poetry reading to celebrate Poetry Month. If you haven't done so in a long time, may I suggest that you start with The Book Of Virtues which has a smattering of many writers and styles and has works that will appeal to all ages? You may find a favorite of your own.
Let me just end with my husband's favorite poem. He says he likes it because it is short and he can remember it. It just goes to show that there is a piece of poetry out there for everyone!
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!