Tuesday, March 22, 2011


How to Eat a Poem

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.
                             -Eve Merriam

My friend Margaux recently requested some poetry recommendations.  We read poems pretty much every day- either at naptime or bedtime.  I even sometimes copy poems to put in Madeleine and Henry's lunch.  Besides the fact that I personally love poetry, I think it's important for children to experience it.  They hear rhyme and meter and rhythm and beautiful ideas strung together through language.  I'll read from any of the books of poetry we have (and we have many!), but here are a few that are particularly for children.

A big collection of Walter de la Mare. Every one is a gem!
Walter de la Mare 2002

Madeleine first brought this home from her school library.  When I saw that it included Gerard Manly Hopkins (one of my favorites) I knew we had to get our own copy.  This book also contains more contemporary poets
compiled by Elizabeth Hauge Sword 1997

I started collecting everything Eugene Field that I could get my hands on. One book has pictures by Maxfield Parrish (reprinted from a 1904 edition) and Lullaby Land is beautifully laid out with illustrations.
Eugene Field 1996
illustrated by Maxfield Parrish

Hush, little one, and fold your hands-
     The sun hath set, the moon is high;
The sea is singing to the sands,
     And wakeful posies are beguiled
By many a fairy lullaby-
     Hush, little child- my little child!

Eugene Field
illustrated by Charles Robinson

I love that Christina Rosetti's collection of Nursery poems (from 1872) is "dedicated without permission to the baby who suggested them".  Some of her verses also deal with the death of a baby which was often written about and romantacised at that time.
Christiana Rossetti 1968
illustrated by Arthur Hughes

What are heavy?  sea-sand and sorrow:
What are brief?  to-day and to-morrow:
What are frail?  Spring blossoms and youth:
What are deep?  the ocean and truth.

Another library find that I had to track down for myself.  Really fantastic collection of poems.
compiled by George Carhart and Paul A McGhee 1931

At every used bookshop I look for Sara Teasdale. I can't get enough of her. This is a thin volume, but has wonderful black inked drawings.
Sara Teasdale 1930
illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop

And of course I've already mentioned this wonderful book.

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