As I shared last time, summer is a wonderful time to enjoy poetry. My favorite way to enjoy poetry is just to enjoy it… enjoy the words, the images, and what it brings to mind. Don’t worry about what a poem is about. Allow yourself and others with you to enter into the experience, pressure free.
And as I shared before, poems and picnics with a few friends, young and old, can create delightful Saturday summer memories. Lazing around on a porch swing with a child and few poems sounds nice for a Sunday afternoon. I am partial to a pancake breakfast with a few shared poems read around the table.
Here are a few poems and some activities to share with a young poetry partner or two in your life.
1. “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold.
Something to ask: What piece of food would you steal from the fridge and have to apologize for taking? Why? How would you describe it?
Read A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams — by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet —to learn more about this American poet.
2. Haiku by Basho
alone in my house—
only the morning glories
straggle to my door.
Although he lived during the 1600s, Basho is still one of the best-loved Japanese poets of haiku. I find it delightful when I can relate to a poem written by someone who lived a long time ago and in a different country—like the one above.
A haiku poem written in English is 3 lines with a 5, 7, 5 syllable pattern. The goal of haiku is to capture a moment in nature. Something to try: take turns writing a line of haiku around an agreed upon topic. It could get pretty silly!
Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak and illustrated by Demi is one book to learn about Basho and the artistry of haiku writing.
3. “On Quiet Feet” by Nikki Grimes
When my dad walks
into a room,
up on me
and I don’t know
until I feel
when he is
I might even
his heart beat—
This poem captures what it’s like to be surprised by someone. Acting out this poem would be a fun game to play – who can surprise who the most in one day?
Nikki Grimes is a prolific award-winning writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, and poems. Her recent story Words with Wings, about girl who daydreams to escape some hard life events and is helped by a teacher and through creative writing, is written in poem form. When my girls were younger, I would take out any book in the library I found written by Nikki Grimes.
4. “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
This poem is to be savored over several weeks. Take turns reading lines or stanzas. Share what lines and words grab your attention and what images come to mind. Look up photos of Innisfree and cabins of clay and wattle. What would a bee-loud glade sound like and look like? If there are words one of you doesn’t know, look them up (I had to look up linnet.) To enlarge your connection with the poem, talk about what stories (from life or from books) might remind you of this poem (for me it is The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien).
5. Shakespeare’s Mid-summer Night’s Dream is a wonder-full and wonderful play about love, enchantment, and mischievous fairies. This short little piece is found in Act 2 when Puck, who serves the Fairy King, comes upon a fairy in the woods and asks where she is going. Reading this also makes me want to pull Flower Fairies of the Summer (also poems) by Cecily Mary Barker off the shelf and read it to remember my favorite summer flowers.
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
This is a fun poem to memorize.
To enjoy the whole story with a child in your life, look for a picture book version such as the one adapted by Georghia Ellinas and illustrated by Jane Ray, or the classic edition illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
Featured image by jcomp