Last Friday, Muriel asked if teachers have time to let children memorize poems. I'm guessing, probably not. What a shame. I understand that today's students face a slew of curriculum requirements, and today's teachers barely have time to cover those mandated requirements. That doesn't make it any less a shame.
I'm glad that I teach preschool. Reciting simple rhymes and singing songs are expected parts of the curriculum. What many people don't know, is that little children are capable of so much more. My students have happily memorized Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening and Emily Dickinson's A Bird Came Down the Walk. A few years ago, a mother of one of my kindergarten students told me she was moved to tears when she realized that her 5-year old was softly reciting Stopping By Woods to himself as they drove through a light snow. I bet that poem will still be with him when he's an old man.
Mur got me thinking about poems I've been carrying around for decades. Many of them came from Sister Genevieve St. Joseph. Barberries is one. (I tried unsuccessfully to search out the author.) A Bird Came Down the Walk by Emily Dickinson is another. I'd have to say my favorite, however, is a snippet of a much larger work. It's the first twelve lines of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages ...
I had to memorize it for an English class my sophomore year in college. I spent hours in the language lab, gigantic headphones gripping my skull, trying to nail the pronunciation. There were probably 50 of us enrolled in the class. Guess who was the only person the professor randomly picked to recite. I achieved the pinnacle of panic when I heard my name called, which was really very silly because I nailed it. I owned Geoffrey Chaucer that day. Still do.
Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up host is Picture Book of the Day.