Daughter came home from Fifth Grade yesterday to tell me that her teacher had said, "I don't know WHY you have to learn which syllables are stressed. You'll NEVER have to use it."
Watch Suisan fall to the floor, writhe in agony, and then leap to her feet to sprint for the poetry collections.
Have I mentioned that I don't hold her Fifth Grade teacher in the highest regard?
Why do kids learn about haikus in First grade, cinquains in Second and Third grades, and then never look at poetry ever again until college? Do teachers not read poetry? In class? At home? EVER? And where the hell does the Fifth Grade teacher get off telling a class of 32 kids to dismiss an entire topic because she can't be bothered to spend a sec on rhyme and meter? Oooh. She gets right under my skin. (OK, enough about her. I think she's not the brightest light in the closet, so it makes it hard for me to respect her. I usually just ignore her if I can.)
But Daughter and I did read some Elizabeth Bishop, some Auden, and some Billy Collins, all of which I thought had pretty simple word choices, so we could talk about why a poem called "Sleeping" might sound different than a poem called "Marching." Daughter was suitably intrigued.
And because I cannot help myself, here's an Elizabeth Bishop from North & South, 1946.
Sleeping Standing Up
As we lie down to sleep the world turns half away
through ninety dark degrees;
the bureau lies on the wall
and thoughts that were recumbent in the day
rise up as the others fall;
stand up and make a forest of thick-set trees.
The armored cars of dreams, contrived to let us do
so many a dangerous thing,
are chugging at its edge
all camouflaged, and ready to go through
the swiftest streams, or up a ledge
of crumbling shale, while plates and trappings ring.
--Through turret-slits we saw the crumbs or pebbles that lay
below the riveted flanks
on the green forest floor,
like those the clever children placed by day
and followed to their door
one night, at least; and in the ugly tanks
we tracked them all the night. Sometimes they disappeared,
dissolving in the moss,
sometimes we went too fast
and ground them underneath. How stupidly we steered
until the night was past.
and never found out what the cottage was.
Edited to add--the indents on the poem are not showing up--it looks more beautiful on the page when it's foramtted correctly. Sorry Mrs. Bishop.