Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Starting With Hughes

If forced to choose a favorite poet to use to teach poetry to young children, I think I'd have to go with Langston Hughes. His poems are filled with brilliant metaphor, rich language, strong rhythms and sounds--all the things I want to expose to young readers of poetry. Not only that, but they're steeped in history. To read and understand Hughes, you must understand his times--where and when he was from. His poems give me the opportunity to teach students about those times. And I really think his poems are way better at bringing those times to life than any textbook could ever be.

So last week I started with "Dreams," one of my all-time favorites and maybe Hughes's most widely known poem. Today we looked at one that's slightly less famous, although it does lend its title to the title of a great collection of his poems which every teacher should own, "The Dream Keeper." It goes like this:

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers, 
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.
Only eight lines, yet so poignant. At least in my mind. In case you're wondering, I also enjoy and will probably teach at some point this year "Mother to Son,"  "I, Too," "Dream Variations," and "Dream Deferred." (What can I say? I'm a sucker for Dream poems). Of course, I've already talked about how I used two of his other poems, and I'd also say that if I taught high school, I'd teach "Theme for English B" for sure.

I'll leave with a short one that I discovered, simply called "Poem." I'll be sharing it tomorrow with my students to see what they think and to talk about the joy of repetition in poems (definitely a topic for future posts)...

I loved my friend 
He went away from me 
There's nothing more to say 
The poem ends, 
Soft as it began- 
I loved my friend

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