Sunday, January 06, 2013

Got Poetry?

Happy New Year! I am a little slow in getting my New Year started. :-) Todd's parents were here for Christmas, and we all had a nice time. When they left, we all got sick. We've spent a week recovering from a rather strange virus. I think we're all getting over it now, but we certainly needed a week to get better.

As I look forward to starting school up again, I'm considering what changes might need to be made. For one thing, my girls need a bit more supervision in their school work. I have not been as on top of everything as I should, so we're behind and have some catching up to do.

Our Charlotte Mason co-op went well last semester, so Sara and I are considering adding more to it. She asked if we might like to learn Latin together, and perhaps add in Plutarch. Her boys love Plutarch, but we tend to forget to do it, so that would work out really well, I think. I would also love to have someone else helping with Latin. I'm a little intimidated to teach it, which is why we haven't started before now.

One thing that's on my heart is reading more poetry. We need to read a poem every day, but we have not been doing that. We studied Emily Dickinson in our little co-op, and that was wonderful. It helped me see that poetry doesn't have to be hugely complicated or hard. I found this great poem by Billy Collins on the Poetry 180 website:

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

I took an "Introduction to Poetry" in college, in indeed, it did seem as if the instructor wanted us to "beat each poem with a hose" and be able to define every nuance and identify any potential instance of symbolism.

Now, I am not good at literary analysis. I love to read poetry, but I do not enjoy trying to figure out "what the author meant." It's not that I don't like to think; I do. However, I believe Billy Collins' poem, above, describes more accurately how Charlotte Mason would have approached poetry.

She said this:

He should have practice, too, in reading aloud, for the most part, in the books he is using for his term's work. These should include a good deal of poetry, to accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour; and that a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said, with a certain roundness of tone and precision of utterance. Quite young children are open to this sort of teaching, conveyed, not in a lesson, but by a word now and then. - Vol. 1, p. 127, emphasis mine
"Words are beautiful in themselves. . .they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour." That quote, right there, inspires me to read more poetry with my children, and for myself. We've made a good start with our co-op readings, but I hope to add even more into our homeschool, and our lives. I am not one for New Year's resolutions, but this is one thing I'm determined to do.

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