Greetings, fellow poets. This is Victoria, hosting Poetics today. I would like to invite you to journey back in time with me to your own childhood. Let’s experience once more the wonder of discovery, the beauty of simple things. Hopefully for most of us, these were years replete with innocence, playfulness and an abundance of imagination. For those not so blessed, may you have found joy and healing in other children—perhaps even your own little ones.
My mother and grandmother taught me to love poetry before I could read. Even today, my mother (who is 93 and suffers from dementia) is able to recite this entire poem from memory:
Oh, there once was a Puffin
Just the shape of a muffin,
And he lived on an island
In the bright blue sea!
He ate little fishes,
That were most delicious,
And he had them for supper
And he had them for tea.
But this poor little Puffin,
He couldn’t play nothin’,
For he hadn’t anybody
To play with at all.
So he sat on his island,
And he cried for awhile, and
He felt very lonely,
And he felt very small.
Then along came the fishes,
And they said, “If you wishes,
You can have us for playmates,
Instead of for tea!”
So they now play together,
In all sorts of weather,
And the Puffin eats pancakes,
Like you and like me.
by Florence Page Jaques, Originally published in The Golden Book of Poetry
In “A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, ” Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, discusses the important role that poetry played in their family life. She presents a collection of poems for children. I happened upon it the other day while waiting for someone and rediscovered the pleasure of many poems from my own childhood.
Kennedy writes in the introduction:
Some people think poetry is solitary or boring. They worry that they won’t be able to understand it. But people who start reading poetry when they are young don’t have these fears. As children we enjoy language and rhyme and creating word pictures of the world around us. A love of learning and the ability to express ourselves clearly are critical in today’s world. We are bombarded with information, but growing up with poetry develops a foundation in language and values that enables us to distinguish what is truly important.
Here are a few facts I discovered on the Internet about what children enjoy in poetry:
• They love poems that tell a story—narrative poems;
• They like Limericks, humorous poems and poems about animals;
• They prefer poems that play with sound such as rhymes and rhythm
Although one article states they don’t like haiku, or free verse I didn’t find that to be true when I was a museum docent. One of the gallery games I used to play with children of all ages was to take them to one of the smaller galleries and have them write a haiku, cinquain or free verse choosing one of the paintings in the exhibit as inspiration. They “got it,” and they were good.
For this week’s Poetics, would you write a poem for a child of any age? Maybe you have someone in mind for whom you would like to write. Poetry can express emotions that are hard for some to verbalize, it can pass on values, family history, the wonder of the world, teach lessons and so much more.
If you are new to dVerse, here’s the drill:
• Write you poem and post it on your blog or website;
• Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post;
• Copy the URL to your poem and enter your name or identifier in the spaces Mr. Linky provides;
• Return to dVerse, share a comment if you will and visit and comment on other poets work.
• Enjoy being a child for a little while.
In conclusion, here’s another poem you may enjoy:
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside–
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown–
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Robert Lewis Stevenson, Public Domain