Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Poem to Start the Week: Mummy Slept Late

Studying poetic devices? Here's a hurricane of hyperbole. John Ciardi had fun with this one.

And for vocabulary: How many kids these days know 'bituminous' and 'anthracite' ?

John Ciardi
Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast

Daddy fixed the breakfast.
He made us each a waffle.
It looked like gravel pudding.
It tasted something awful.

“Ha, ha,” he said, “I’ll try again.
This time I’ll get it right.”
But what I got was in between
Bituminous and anthracite.

“A little too well done? Oh well,
I’ll have to start all over.”
That time what landed on my plate
Looked like a manhole cover.

I tried to cut it with a fork:
The fork gave off a spark.
I tried a knife and twisted it
Into a question mark.

I tried it with a hack-saw.
I tried it with a torch.
It didn’t even make a dent.
It didn’t even scorch.

The next time Dad gets breakfast
When Mummy’s sleeping late,
I think I’ll skip the waffles.
I’d rather eat the plate.

-John Ciardi

"Mummy Slept Late..." is from You Read to Me, I'll Read to You. You can probably find several of Ciardi's books of poetry for children in your library, or on eBay. I don't know which are still in print. Ciardi's How Does a Poem Mean is an excellent introduction to poetry for grownups.


The series of posts, A Poem to Start the Week, is my little anthology of the poetry I have used with my students in elementary schools during 27 years of teaching.

Previous Poems to Start the Week:

Just My Size
The Kindest Things I Know
Miles to Go
Love that Brother
Oh, Frabjous Day!

Other Posts about Children's Literature:

The Lion's Paw top kid's OOP book!
Aslan is Dead!
Multiplying People, Rice, and Readers
A Teacher's Life

You can read some of my own efforts at poetry here.

A weblog dedicated to Poetry for Children.
Watch Sonja Cole's reviews of children's books at

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