Thursday, April 06, 2017

National Poetry Month

Last year, I combined National Letter Writing Month with National Poetry Month.  It started out a bit accidentally when I found a copy of a poem I wanted to share with a friend, but it was great timing, because I could include little excerpts or entire poems, in letters or on postcards, that I wanted to share with other friends and with my grands.

My first items in the mail so far this April have not included poetry, but I've been dragging out some of my anthologies and looking through them for possibilities.

I have several books of children's poems as well, and this morning, I got stuck reading some of them.  You know how sometimes you are looking for one particular poem, but ended up reading one after another.  It can happen with recipe books, too!

Reading some favorite children's poems  reminded me of Natalie Merchant's CD Leave Your Sleep.  Merchant collected the poems she shared with her young daughter and put them to music.  It is a beautiful album, full of delightful poems and melodies from famous and not so famous poets.  

The King of China's Daughter
The King of China’s daughter,
She never would love me
Though I hung my cap and bells upon
Her nutmeg tree.

For oranges and lemons,
The stars in bright blue air,
(I stole them long ago, my dear)
Were dangling there.

The Moon did give me silver pence,
The sun did give me gold,
And both together softly blew
And made my porridge cold;

But the King of China’s daughter
Pretended not to see
When I hung my cap and bells upon
Her nutmeg tree.

The King of China’s daughter
So beautiful to see
With her face like yellow water, left
Her nutmeg tree.

Her little rope for skipping
She kissed and gave to me –
Made of painted notes of singing-birds
Among the fields of tea

I skipped across the nutmeg grove, –
I skipped across the sea;
But neither sun nor moon, my dear,
Has yet caught me.

-Edith Sitwell.

Another favorite is Bleezer's Ice-Cream by Jack Prelutsky.  Merchant put it to music as well, and back in 2010, I made a papier mache eccentric figure inspired by Prelutsky's poem.

It starts out:

I am Ebenezer Bleezer, I run BLEEZER’S ICE-CREAM STORE, there are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before, twenty-eight divine creations too delicious to resist, why not do yourself a favor, try the flavors on my list:
 I just included the 28 flavors on the list
Yep, it should be Prelutsky with a t

Don't get me wrong, I'm still excessively fond of John Donne and T.S. Eliot, and I have no problem switching from serious to playful, from scholarly to absurd, from William Butler Yeats to Shel Silverstein.  The difference is that Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein make me smile in almost every case.  

Who are some of your favorite poets?  


  1. Wonderful post!!! I dearly love Ebineezer Bleezer!!! As a young woman I adored T.S. Eliot. Shel Silverstein is so much fun!!! There are so many wonderful poets out there -- I wish they would get more attention!

    1. There really are some wonderful poets, and they cover the spectrum of human emotions and situations. Good poetry for children is a great way to get them interested in poetic language, and it's fun to watch children fall in love with words. :)

  2. Oh what a wonderful post!!! It made me smile.....LOVE your art!!!
    My fav poet is Robert Frost.

    1. I love Frost, too. Mending Wall is one of my favorites! There is such a cadence to it. :)

  3. Kipling, but not the usual ones. Some of John Masefield!

    1. I always thought "If" provided excellent advice, but I also love Kipling's story poems. What I love about Kipling is that so many of his lines are like "earworms" -- once they make an impression, you remember not only the words, but the rhythm. :)

      Unfortunately, I have an uneasy feeling that the "Gods of the Copybook Headings" may be too close for comfort.

  4. Since I've taught Shakespeare so many times, I've found poems within the plays, generally by accident. But I can't help but love his works. Sonnet 116 is my very favorite, but I can't possibly name all the poets I've read, taught and enjoyed. Poe, Bishop, Plath, Dickinson, Eliot, Keats, Frost. Oh, and Wordsworth and Donne, Coleridge, Ralegh (that sassy "no" in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd) and so many more. I suppose teaching English is a pretty good job for a gal who loves literature. Thanks for getting me thinking about my favorite poet!

    1. It is hard to determine a favorite, isn't it? I love all the ones you mention and more! I used to use "Metaphors" by Plath to see if any of my students could guess the "riddle in nine syllables." :)

  5. This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing all of this. It happens that every time I look for one poem I end up going down a rabbit hole of poems and reading more and more for hours.

    1. :) Yep, a rabbit hole is a great description!

  6. Oh my goodness, love the Natalie Merchant video but your Little Eccentric of Ebenezer Bleezer's Ice Cream takes the cake, or ice cream! I'm not familiar with Jack Prelutsky but will have to take notice.

    1. The Natalie Merchant CD is delightful! And so is Jack Prelutsky! :) I bought two of Prelutsky's books (for the grands, of course) after hearing Merchant's version of the Ebenezer Bleezer poem.


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