Thursday, August 30, 2007

Today's Poem - Friday

I just realized that the last three (also the only three) Poems of the Day are all New England poetesses, so I thought I should branch out for Today's Poem. I was also thinking that so far these are all poems I already know and love, and that it would be nice to find a poem not only new to the girls but also new for me, too.

I hunted around a bit and found one that I think will be perfect, DH Lawrence's Suburbs on a Hazy Day. It makes the suburbs sound like the boring cesspools they are, which is perfect because lately Magpie has been campaigning that she wants to live in the 'burbs (because a lot of her friends have moved there and in her four-year-old world "the suburbs" are probably imagined as some purple-hued pony pastured magic play land) and this poem should paint the more realistic cookie-cutter wasteland which would await her there in reality. (Spoiler alert: a year later we do move to the suburbs. Lucky us!)

Suburbs on a Hazy Day

O stiffly shapen houses that change not,
What conjuror’s cloth was thrown across you, and raised
To show you thus transfigured, changed,
Your stuff all gone, your menace almost rased?

Such resolute shapes, so harshly set
In hollow blocks and cubes deformed, and heaped
In void and null profusion, how is this?

In what strong aqua regia now are you steeped?

That you lose the brick-stuff out of you
And hover like a presentment, fading faint
And vanquished, evaporate away
To leave but only the merest possible taint!

Today's Poem - Thursday

Today's poem is a fun one. Elizabeth Bishop's One Art.

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (
Write it!) like disaster.

I first read this poem in college as part of a fresh(person) year seminar called Poetry and Being, which as the name implies, was both enjoyable and pretentious. I always remembered this poem and then began remembering it all the more when it made the cut as one of the "Poems on the Underground' and I got to read it most days on my way to or from work when I lived in London. That was forever ago now - 1992.

Anyway, I remembered this poem all of a sudden today because I knocked a bowl off of the over-crowded drying rack and it rattled and shattered all over the ground. It was truly no biggity, but Magpie seemed really upset it had broken. I explained it was no big deal, I didn't care about the bowl, but she still seemed flustered by the whole thing. I then explained even if I did care about the bowl, it was still important to practice the art of losing, and I went and got my still-owned from fresh(person) poetry class Elizabeth Bishop anthology.

It took awhile to find the poem because I was looking up Art of Losing instead of One Art but being very patient, as all almost-4 and almost-2-year-olds are, I finally found it and they were ready to listen with apt ears - again as pretty much all toddlers are when promised the sweet sounds of New England poetesses.

And to my surprise, and delight, the girls actually did like the poem.

Magpie requested for me to read it about six times until moving on to other lofty pursuits like eating play doh off the kitchen floor. She seemed to especially like the "Write it!" part, as if she could understand Elizabeth's inner struggle here, and I felt as I do most days like she must be a very old soul, or at the very least the reincarnation of someone very spiritual. Like Ghandi. Or maybe Jim Morrison.

Today's Poem - Wednesday

Today I read to the girls from Sylvia Plath's Ariel. You might say, isn't that a little heavy for an almost two-year-old and almost four-year-old, even for little New Yorkers? And generally, yes I think it is. But Magpie loves her stuffed animal horse, named Ariel, so it seemed an obvious choice. Even more so when I looked-up a little background about the poem, and it turns out Plath herself had a real-live horse also named Ariel. Talk about coincidences!

The anthology's cover is a nice glossy white with A R I E L written in a clear black block print, so Magpie enjoyed this poem from the very first moment the book was presented.

For those of you interested in a developing a poetry curriculum for your preschoolers as well, here's Ariel:

Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.

God's lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! -- The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Berries cast dark
Hooks --

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Something else

Hauls me through air --
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels

White Godiva, I unpeel --
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry

Melts in the wall. And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Today's Poem - Tuesday

Today I read my daughters Magpie (almost 4) and Kay (almost 2) one of my favorite poems. It is by Emily Dickinson:

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one's name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Magpie thought it was pretty great, so now I'm inspired to read some poetry every day.

When I looked the poem up online to cut-n-paste it here, I found an alternate version as well:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Maybe this will be tomorrow's poem...

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