A poem to recite, eh?

March 31, 2011

The JabberwockThe thought of having to choose just one poem to recite for a class is dizzying. There are so many from which to choose that I must sit and let the thought wash over me for a bit, grabbing at a title there, an author’s name there, and bringing into focus those old favorites that would some pretty story tell, to lull me to sleep for the past half-century. During those fifty years, an echo of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings was enough to begin a flight of fancy, with each successive flight fancier than the one before. It was important to beware… the jaws that bite, the claws that catch lest I find myself hurtling Through the Looking Glass, desperately seeking a way home.

Safely at home, I could always find calming, beautiful imagery in Joyce Kilmer‘s simple, allegorical poem Trees. Or I could spend an entire evening with Edgar A. Guest, the people’s poet, before slumbering with the bright green cover of my copy of The Best Loved Poems of the American People clutched tightly to my chest as a shield against all interlopers that would invade a child’s dreams.

Below is a handful of my favorites ending with Somebody’s Mother, which in the last analysis, I always am. But I am not only somebody’s mother and neither shall you be, sweet girl. We can be poets or art critics, world travelers or activists. We can be anything. And we do get to decide.

Trees or Myself might be your best choices for reciting in class as they are the shortest in the list, but please remember to check out the others. To touch their words and phrases, and experience a leap of imagination and the scent of ink, paper, and time, you can refer to my copy of The Best Loved Poems of the American People. It’s easy to recognize with its well-loved, lime green cover that has been repeatedly taped together with bright blue library tape over the past four decades, compliments of Grandma Beanie.

My Mother – Ann Taylor The Walrus and the Carpenter – Lewis Carroll
Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll It Couldn’t Be Done – Edgar A. Guest
Myself – Edgar A. Guest A Friend’s Greeting – Edgar A. Guest
Trees – Joyce Kilmer Somebody’s Mother – Mary Dow Brine

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll is a delightful story, in whose pages you can find Jabberwocky, and The Walrus and the Carpenter.

****4/1/11 – You just reminded me of the Emily Dickinson poem and teddy bear image that hung above my bed as a child (it now hangs on the mirror in your room):

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.


One comment

  1. a comment from 4/1/11 refers to a teddy bear with I shall not live in vain. My sister had that also hanging above her bed, but it was lost long ago. I wonder if I could get a copy of yours or do you happen to know where another could be found. I know she would LOVE to see this once again. It was a huge part of our childhood, in fact my father used to sing the words to us (he made up his own melody as he went along) when we went to bed. Please reach me at lhlynsky@gmail.com

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