Today marks the end of National Poetry Month. To celebrate, I hosted a Poem in My Pocket Day for my students. They selected a poem and wrote it on a sheet of paper. Then, they carried it in their pocket until the end of English class. At the end of class, those who participated read their poems and explained why they chose that particular poem. Participation was optional, but I gave five bonus points to each participant.
I began each reading by sharing this poem by Emily Dickinson:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
I selected this poem because, other than the Psalms, it’s the first poem I remember reading. As a child, I loved the rhyme scheme. As an adult, I love the meaning. It’s such an encouragement.
Here are the selections chosen by a few of my students:
Alexis: "Christmas is Coming" ~ shared it because it was her grandfather’s favorite.
Christmas is coming,
The geese are getting fat,
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Then God bless you.
J. Michael: "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats ~ memorized it for another class
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Hannah: "Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad" by William Butler Yeats ~ also memorized it for another class
Why should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.
Kaylee: "Dreams" by Langston Hughes ~ shared because it makes her happy
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Caitlin: "Rain" by Shel Silverstein ~ shared because she’s a fan of Silverstein
I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.
I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can't do a handstand--
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said--
I'm just not the same since there's rain in my head.
Alexis: "There was an Old Man with a Flute" by Edward Lear ~ shared because she thinks it’s funny
There was an Old Man with a flute,
A serpent ran into his boot;
But he played day and night,
Till the serpent took flight,
And avoided that man with a flute.
A few students shared poems they wrote:
Wind takes her breath
Musket blowing her chest
Water drowning out the sounds of her cry at midnight
She loves the light, but is fearful of day
Not one person can say they tried to save her dying inside.
singing, loving, growing
snow queen, kind princess
caring, unknowing, unwitting
There once was a guy named Bill Tacket
He just had bought a new jacket
Well, he got in a boat
Screamed, “I’m afloat!”
Fell in the water and said, “Crap it!”
He makes her beam
But everyone else makes her want to scream
They made her want to cry
But he gives her a reason to try.
But then he was the one who made her cry
He didn’t make her try
She had no one
They had won.
When I Listen to Music
When I listen to music I can’t think a thing
I will only think about something in the future
Or even a little dream.
I will sit on my bed,
With earplugs in my ears
And think about life
In the future for this dear.
I listen to country and pop
And even some rock
But I still think of things like
A six year old.
I will think of my prince
And even my kids
Until I finish and see my
Sister and brother
Jumping on my bed!
I truly believe this is a fitting conclusion to National Poetry Month. Farewell, April 2015!