Monday, June 18, 2007

PTSW: A poem should not mean /But be

Merriam MacLeish Moore

Poets can be a self-conscious tribe. Poems about poetry abound. Just a few weeks ago I posted Billy Collins' "Introduction to Poetry". Every freshman lit class has a go at Archibald MacLeish's "Ars Poetica" or Marianne Moore's "Poetry". There are lots of these that are suitable to use with a poetry unit. They seem to often boil down to my post's title. The poets want us to just accept the poem, allow ourselves to experience it without too much analysis, even "eat" it. At least that's what they seem to be saying. Here is another poem about poetry -- or how to read it -- this one by Eve Merriam.
How To Eat A Poem

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up and eat the juice that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth
For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
to throw away.
by Eve Merriam

When my eldest daughter was in middle school I discovered a poem that she had written and left about the house, so I wrote the following little bit and left it with hers. It is my own effort at capturing a little of what poetry has been for me. (And a hint of my love for that little girl thrown in.)

Inside a Dreamer's Heart
On Reading Brannon's Poem - 1996

You know the Wish
that night and day
visits you,
begs to play?

It is the Play
of Words just so
has its way:
won't take no.

What you feel,
Brannon Ruth,
Is very real
Find that Truth.

Put it down
however strange
smile, frown,

Write your Poem,
Make a Friend.
Know the Wish
It's real Pretend.

Then March, December,
Near or far,
Always remember
Who and whose you are.
by Terrell Shaw


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:
Man's Best Friend
Spelling is Tough Stough!
Blue MarbleTacks, Splinters, Apples and Stars
Oh, Captain, My Captain!MetaphorIntroducion to Poetry
Loveliest of TreesFlax-Golden TalesThe Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead
Owl PelletsMummy Slept LateJust My Size
The Kindest Things I KnowMiles to GoLove that Brother
Oh, Frabjous Day!

Other Posts about Children's Literature:

The Lion's Paw top kid's OOP book!
Aslan is Dead!
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

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