Thursday, April 18, 2013

A-Z blogging challenge:
P is for Poetry

If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you know that I love poems, poetry, poets. There is so much within poetry--the cadence of the lines, word choices, images that are conjured--that contrive to inspire me.

I was thinking recently of the very first poets I discovered, or whom discovered me: Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and the poem below, by John Greenleaf Whittier. I have very fond memories of the school year (8th grade English?) where I memorized this poem and made a little illustrated booklet of it, cutting corresponding pictures out of Ideals magazines.

In School-days
Still sits the school-house by the road,
A ragged beggar sleeping;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry-vines are creeping.

Within, the master’s desk is seen,
Deep scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
The jack-knife’s carved initial;

The charcoal frescos on its wall;
Its door’s worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
Went storming out to playing!

Long years ago a winter sun
Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
And low eaves’ icy fretting.

It touched the tangled golden curls,
And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps delayed
When all the school were leaving.

For near her stood the little boy
Her childish favor singled:
His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.

Pushing with restless feet the snow
To right and left, he lingered;—
As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.

He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
The soft hand’s light caressing,
And heard the tremble of her voice,
As if a fault confessing.

“I’m sorry that I spelt the word:
I hate to go above you,
Because,”—the brown eyes lower fell,—
“Because, you see, I love you!”

Still memory to a gray-haired man
That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
Have forty years been growing!

He lives to learn, in life’s hard school,
How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,
Like her,—because they love him.

Such a sweet poem, and quite easy to memorize--at least that's how I remember it!

I went on to fall in love with many other poets over the years, from Margaret Atwood, Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Denise Levertov, Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Li-Young Lee...

It's been a long time since I memorized a poem--probably college, when it was required in a poetry class--but remembering this poem from my childhood makes me want to take on that challenge again... maybe I'll start small--a haiku? Ha.

Who are your favorite poets? Have you ever memorized a poem, and if so, which one(s)?

What's this A-Z business about? Check out my kick-off post. And stay tuned for the random joy and nonsense I concoct during the month of April!


  1. I love Robert Frost and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    1. Me too! Did you happen to see my "tribute" to nuts a la Elizabeth Barrett Browning, on "N" day? I had fun...

      Thanks for coming by!

  2. Lovely Poetry. I don't remember coming across a poem or poet that I didn't like. My brain shuts off about 2pm and I'm no longer responsible for anything I do or say. :)
    A to Z April Blogging Challenge

    1. There are certainly poems/poets I'm less fond of, but I focus on the ones I DO!

      Thanks for coming by!

  3. Wonderful poem! I like Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost, and Wendell Berry.

    1. Oh yes, I forgot to mention Emily Dickinson! Her too, definitely.

      Thanks for coming by!

  4. Great poem.

    One of my favourites is Judith Viorst... you remember her.

    She wrote, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," That is my speed! but it doesn't rhyme much.

    1. Judith is a great writer, indeed. I don't think of her as a poet, per se, but she's certainly got a way with words!

  5. You know me well...I do love the rhythm of Will...I cringe and squint and moan and whine when he is read poorly but when I hear him well delivered my heart soars with delight!!!

    But then another favourite is my dear daughter who doesn't write enough poems but when she does it is another delightful thrill.

    1. Oh you are too sweet! I love writing poems, it is true, and it would do my soul some good to think that way more... putting my mind into the place of poetry is one of my favorite things.

  6. Just wandered over from A to Z. It's funny. I'm not a big poetry reader or writer. But my husband has long been proud of memorizing the "Cremation of Sam Magee" We were at a Western film gathering and suddenly he and Dirk London were doing that poem together. I was enjoying it so much I didn't get a picture but you just never know. Dirk was in many movies and the old tv series about Wyatt Earp.
    Thanks for sharing your poems.

    1. It has been ages since I've thought of the Cremation of Sam Magee, but I actually know some of that poem! What a hoot, now I'll have to go look the whole thing up!

      Thanks for coming by!

  7. I used to memorize poems as a child, but sadly, no longer.

    Look forward to the rest of your challenge posts!
    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    AZ blogs on Social Media

  8. That line about the hat covering pride and shame is still so relevant for teenage boys now I love it - my favourite poem Growing by Ruth Howard it has special memories. Every time I write I fight an urge to poeticise too much, this is something I need to explore further :)

    1. I love learning about new poems and poets. I am going to check out Growing now...

      Thanks, Ida!

  9. P: Ah, poetry. The class we took from Lamberton is one of my favorite college memories (much better than the Jell-O memory!). I can still recite "The Road Not Taken" and the Millay sonnet "Love is Not All." My kids are not the least bit impressed.

    1. I love having college memories with you. I had not thought of "Love is Not All" in AGES.

      Kids should be impressed, dammit.


Blogger Template By Designer Blogs