Friday, December 28, 2007

A Room Can Say Only So Much

A Room Can Say Only So Much
by Cody, 8th grade

The messy room says neatness and order are not important
And the closed blinds say light is not welcome
The autographed footballs say he's a fan
And the jet fighter model on his desk say he's creative

His picture para-sailing shows his bravery
The camouflaged wall color says he has things to hide
The big closet says he's stylish
And the baseball hats say his hair is always 'bad'

The radio shows he has a love for music
The fireman's helmet says he's supportive
The mini-bank shows he is protective
But, he has another room, too

The big bed shows he loves to sleep
The captain's badge says he's a leader
And trophies in his room say he's an athlete
But the room does not make the man.

A bonus...

Rap versions of Chaucer's poetry?
Yes, it's true! But check out Babasword and hear for yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The New Year Always Brings Us What We Want

From New Year's
By Dana Gioia

The new year always brings us what we want
Simply by bringing us along to see
A calendar with every day uncrossed,
A field of snow without a single footprint.


I'm not sure where you can read the rest of this poem...I think it's from Interrogations at Noon.

Here's a link to Gioia's The Lost Garden.
And here's a funny bit from Gioia's Money:

Money. You don't know where it's been,
but you put it where your mouth is.
And it talks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Making Fire In Our Hands

Oranges by Gary Soto is a great poem about young love.

From Oranges

I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

Read the rest of it here.


Poetry "How Tos" from

How To Memorize a poem

You memorize because you have to, the poem was written for you & you must make it your own, step-by-step you learn it by heart...

How To Unblock! Write first time, every time!

A list of suggestions to get you writing poems again when you're blocked. About Poetry Guide Bob Holman has lots of ways to unblock, tap your poetic springs, get the poems flowing, write first time, every time.

How To Get started submitting your poems for print publication

A simple step-by-step outline to help you manage the process of submitting your poems for publication.

How To Locate the text of a poem

A simple step-by-step outline of how to find the text of a poem on the Net when you can only remember one line.

Poetry by Alphonse Mucha, a Czech artist who lived from 1860-1939.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Welcome Yule!

A Winter Solstice poem by Susan Cooper, the author of The Dark is Rising.

The Shortest Day
By Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Poem of the Air

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Out of the bosom of the Air
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

Even though I don't think of snow as sad at all, I enjoy this poem. Longfellow creates a beautiful image!

Friday, November 23, 2007

On a Footing With Kings

Epitaph of John Jack
By Daniel Bliss (1740-1806)

God wills us free; man wills us slaves.
I will as God wills; God's will be done.

Here lies the body of
A native of Africa who died
March 1773, aged about 60 years.

Tho' born in a land of slavery,
He was born free.

Tho' he lived in a land of liberty,
He lived as a slave.

Till by his honest, tho' stolen, labors,
He acquired the source of slavery,
Which gave him his freedom;

Tho' not long before
Death, the grand tyrant,
Gave him his final emancipation,
And set him on a footing with kings.

Tho' a slave to vice,
He practised those virtues
Without which kings are but slaves.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Colors of Freedom

Kristine O'Connell George has a great web site with information about her books, poems you can listen to, teacher tips and ideas, and more. Her page about the Amazing Middle School Poetry Quest has this wonderful poem and many others.

by Meghan, 5th grade

Orange is the color of the drinking gourd signal,
Grey the pepper that I sprinkle.

Green is the woods that hide me,
Black is the time of day I flee.

Silver is the color of the North Star I follow,
Yellow is the flame in the cabin hollow.

To read the rest, go here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Journey of a Leaf

The Journey of a Leaf
By Ariana, age 12

A golden ship emerges,
from its safe, green home.

Its deck is quiet, vacant
while the wind mans the sails.

The rocking of the ship is slow,
drifting down,

Then the ship comes to a stop,
its long journey is over.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Oh, what beastesses!

Three Ghostesses
by Author Unknown

Three Little Ghostesses,
Sitting on postesses,
Eating buttered toastesses,
Greasing their fistesses,
Up to their wristesses,
Oh, what beastesses,
To make such feastesses.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Poetic Forms, and lots of 'em

I am fascinated by new poetic forms that people create. So I thought I would include a few links here so you can explore them for yourself:

Author Helen Frost wrote her award-winning novel, The Braid, in a new poetic form which was inspired by Celtic Knotwork. Wow! Poetry covers a number of poetic forms, like Fibonacci poems, based on the Fibonacci number sequence. Cool! Gregory K also introduces the "Fib."

Another mathematical form, the Tetractyses

Invent Your Own Poetry Form on Education World

The Rothko

If you know of another new form or if you come up with one yourself, send me information about it.

Soaring Ever Singest

excerpts from TO A SKYLARK
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

HAIL to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of Heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then -- as I am listening now.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Left My Head

Another poem by Lilian Moore. I haven't seen an illustrated version of "I Left My Head," but it seems like you could have fun with it.

I Left My Head
by Lilian Moore

I left my head

Put it down for
a minute.

Under the
On a chair?

Wish I were
to say

Everything I need
in it.


Did you know?
Back in 1957, Ms. Moore became the first editor of the brand-new Scholastic Arrow Club!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fishing Dreams

By Dong-Myung Kim

Night is
A lake shrouded in blue fog.
I am a fisherman
On sleep's sailboat,
Fishing dreams.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Soft Be Thy Pillow

I love this. It's especially nice read aloud.

Seal Lullaby
by Rudyard Kipling

OH! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Plate Like The Moon Itself

By Pablo Neruda, from "Extravagaria," translated by Alastair Reid

Let us sit down soon to eat
with all those who haven't eaten,
let us spread great tablecloths,
put salt in the lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries,
tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself
from which we will all eat.
For now I ask no more
than the justice of eating.

Friday, September 21, 2007

How Frugal Our Chariots

There Is No Frigate Like A Book
by Emily Dickinson

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Yes, yes, yes!

from The Seed Shop

By Muriel Stuart

...Here in their safe and simple house of death,
Sealed in their shells a million roses leap;
Here I can blow a garden with my breath,
And in my hand a forest lies asleep.


Baby Orang-utan
by Helen Dunmore

Bold flare of orange -
a struck match
against his mother’s breast
he listens to her heartbeat
going yes yes yes

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mulga Bill's Bicycle

Mulga Bill's Bicycle
by Andrew Barton Paterson

'TWAS Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendant to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"
"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.

"But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wild cat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight;
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
But Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, clung tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then, as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek,
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But that was sure the derndest ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek - we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

Australian poet "Banjo" Paterson also wrote "Waltzing Matilda."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Kraken

The Kraken
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sometime I'm going to write a title that's longer than the poem itself

by Judith Viorst

Maybe life was better
When I used to be a wetter.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Love And The Devilish Sea

excerpt of Five Cantos from the Prayer Book of Aphrodite
by Sandra Kasturi

...Love is a chambered nautilus shell
thrown into startled hands
by a devilish sea.

Friday, August 10, 2007

You Handsome Creature

an excerpt from When We Come Home, Blake Calls for Fire
By Nancy Willard, from A Visit to William Blake's Inn

Fire, you handsome creature, shine.
Let the hearth where I confine
your hissing tongues that rise and fall
be the home that warms us all.


I love this entire poem, but I couldn't find a place to link to the rest of it.

A Visit to William Blake's Inn won the Newbery Award in 1982 and it also won a Caldecott Honor Award the same year. It's the only book to win both.

And here's a link about William Blake.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Night in Her Silver Shoon

At first, I tried to find a photo or painting to go with this poem. But then I decided that I'd rather just stay with the image the poem gives me than replace it with something else.

by Walter de la Mare

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.


An interesting piece of trivia about this poem is that it was set to music and sung!

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's Not Orange

by James Reeves

The King sent for his Wise Men all
To find a rhyme for W;
When they had thought a good long time
But could not think of a single rhyme,
"I'm sorry," said he, "to trouble you."

What Do You See?

See the World Through a Poem

A lily or

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a threat'ning horn:
While the Lily white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

The Lily
by William Blake

Friday, June 29, 2007

Screwy Haiku & Haiku Cookies

These Haiku Fortune Cookies sound like a great idea to me. I will have to try this recipe.

I'm not sure where I will come up with the haiku to put in them, but the link above lists some great haiku books. I could also make my own or turn it into a fun family project.

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, lives up to its name with haiku like this one:

On Ferris Wheel
I regret French fries, milk shake --
those below agree

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Do You See?

A waterfall or

Sunlight streams on the river stones.
From high above, the river steadily plunges—
three thousand feet of sparkling water—
the Milky Way pouring down from heaven.

The Waterfall at Lu-Shan by Li-Po

Friday, June 8, 2007

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is well-known for his beloved children's books (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, etc.), but he also wrote poetry. I like this description from The Poetry Archive of the spot where Mr. Dahl did his writing:

Roald did all his writing in a little hut at the bottom of his garden. It was rather shabby, with an old armchair and photos stuck to the walls, but he liked the peace and retreated there for four hours every day. Roald used a particular brand of pencil and wrote on special yellow (his favourite colour) paper which he ordered from America. He carried on writing right up until he died in 1990 and you can still see the last notes he made in his wastepaper basket if you visit his hut which is now part of the Roald Dahl Museum.

The following poem is one that was never published. Mr. Dahl sent it the year before his death to a a class of students in England in response to their letters.

"My teacher wasn't half as nice as yours seems to be.
His name was Mister Unsworth and he taught us history.
And when you didn't know a date he'd get you by the ear
And start to twist while you sat there quite paralysed with fear.
He'd twist and twist and twist your ear and twist it more and more.
Until at last the ear came off and landed on the floor.
Our class was full of one-eared boys. I'm certain there were eight.
Who'd had them twisted off because they didn't know a date.
So let us now praise teachers who today are all so fine
And yours in particular is totally divine."

Friday, June 1, 2007

Take a Lump of Clay

Here's a great idea -- Norwood, a private school in Maryland, has a Poetry Day in May. They say, "On the morning of May 25th, poetry could be heard throughout Norwood’s halls. Sixth graders, many equipped with props and costumes, were dispersed throughout the public areas of the School. As other members of the Norwood community passed by, they activated the performers with a push of a sticker “button.” As always, Poetry Day was delightful for both the audience and the performers." I'll bet it was!

Today's poem comes from the Sung Dynasty:

By Kuan Tao Sheng

Take a lump of clay,
Wet it, pat it,
Make a statue of you
And a statue of me.
Then shatter them, clatter them,
Add some water,
And break them and mold them
Into a statue of you
And a statue of me.
Then, in mine, there are bits of you
And in you there are bits of me.
Nothing shall ever keep us apart.

Friday, May 25, 2007

In Which We Hang On The Edge of Tomorrow

The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of the Harlem Renaissance, selected by Daphne Muse, has a great combination of bold, colorful illustrations and memorable poems, including this one:

By William Stanley Braithwaite (1878-1962)

I am glad daylong for the gift of song,
For time and change and sorrow;
For the sunset wings and the world-end things
Which hang on the edge of to-morrow.

I am glad for my heart whose gates apart
Are the entrance-place of wonders,
Where dreams come in from the rush and din
Like sheep from the rains and thunders.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Visit from Gregory K.

Two poems by Gregory K. for your reading pleasure.

by Gregory K.

Monday: Failed to pay attention...
After school I had detention.

Tuesday: Said things I lamented...
Apologized but was detented.

Wednesday: Won school stairway race!
After school, the same old place.

Thursday: Pulled a classic trick...
Faked an illness; stayed home sick.

Friday: Food fight! Man, what fun!
From the school watched setting sun.

Weekend: This just makes me cry...
I’ve been grounded. Don’t know why.

by Gregory K.

A poem a day
Keeps the doctor away?
Well, no... but it still doesn’t hurt.

A poem a day
Is quite good anyway,
But it’s still not as good as dessert.

Friday, May 4, 2007

In Mother's Shadow

I've been thinking about Mother's Day, getting cards and gifts ready, and this poem seems just right to share:

In Mother's Shadow
By Janet S. Wong

I walk behind Mother
through the woods
not to touch the poison oak
she points to with her stick...

You can read the rest of the poem, and even hear the poet read it herself, here

– from The Rainbow Hand: Poems about Mothers and Children

Friday, April 27, 2007

Shakespeare's Birthday

Celebrating William Shakespeare's birthday (April 23, 1564).

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Reply, reply.
It is engendered in the eyes,
With gazing fed.

~The Merchant of Venice, act III, scene ii

Light thickens, and the crow
Makes wing to th' rooky wood.
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse.

~Macbeth, act III, scene ii

Friday, April 20, 2007


By Jean Little

I feel like the ground in winter,
Hard, cold, dark, dead, unyielding.

Then hope pokes through me

Like a crocus.

The Three-Legged Dragon

By Marie D., age 13

The three-legged dragon
was because of an accident
in a little red wagon

You see this boy
he thought the dragon and
the wagon to be a toy

He pulled it up a hill
with no help from Jill

The dragon was fretting,
the little boy was sweating

When they got to the top
they took a quick stop

On the way back down the hill
They went over a bump
Which caused them to spill

And thus the three-legged dragon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Until I Saw The Sea

by Lilian Moore (1909-2004)

Until I saw the sea
I did not know
that wind
could wrinkle water so.

I never knew
that sun
could splinter a whole sea of blue.

did I know before,
a sea breathes in and out
upon a shore.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Crystal Gazer

This old favorite of mine is from Sara Teasdale's The Crystal Gazer:

I shall gather myself into myself again,
I shall take my scattered selves and make them one,
I shall fuse them into a polished crystal ball
Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun...

Image is from Verrerie d'Art et d'Artisanat de Bréhat

Friday, March 30, 2007

With One White Wing

Elizabeth Spires' With One White Wing is an unusual poetry book -- each of the poems is a riddle.

Here's an example:
I weigh less than a feather
but you can't pick me up.
I can dance but I can't sing.
Without you, I am nothing.

With One White Wing by Elizabeth Spires is out of print,
but you can find it in your library or find used copies on A1 Books .

Do you know the answer to the poem-riddle above?
It's a shadow!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pencil by Valerie Worth

by Valerie Worth

Plied over
Empty paper,
The shadowy

Tip of
This thin
Gold wand

Conjures up

picture by Natalie Babbitt

This poem is from Valerie Worth's Peacock and other poems. From this book, I also really liked the title poem, Umbrella, Milkweed, and Clouds. I'll have to read more by Ms. Worth.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Charles R. Smith

Have you ever read/heard Charles R. Smith, Jr.'s sports poems? I've had his "Allow Me to Introduce Myself" go through my head all day before!

If you go to his website and scroll down a bit, you can hear him perform it, and then it can go through your head all day, too...