Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PTSW: Crystal Stair

Friday will end another school year -- my twenty-seventh as a teacher. I suppose this poem by Langston Hughes can make a pretty good, if tough, valedictory message for my 94 fourth-graders as they move along to fifth.

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
by Langston Hughes

I join that mother and Hughes.

Some of you,
my students,
have encountered tacks and splinters all right,
and worse.

But most of you have had it
pretty easy,
and would do well to realize
(realize, realize)
that the things for which you struggle
are most

Keep climbing, kids.
Keep turning corners.
Feel your way in the dark, if you have to.
Don't turn back.

And know,
whatever the the other kids tell you,
whatever Daddy tells you,
or Aunt Christine,
or the Big Test,
whatever the world tells you,


like those apples we sliced
way back last August,
the first day of school,
the apple with spots,
the crooked one,
the one with the rotten spot
under the glossy skin,
the yellow one,
the small one,
the wrinkled one,
(no two alike, those apples):

There is a star in you, too.

Find that star,
and let it shine.

Make it shine.


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

Previous Poems to Start the Week:

Oh, Captain, My Captain!
Introducion to Poetry
Loveliest of Trees
Flax-Golden Tales

The Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead
Owl Pellets
Mummy Slept Late
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.
And then there's Alien Invasion.

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

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