We Were Meant to be Teachers!

Classroom Management Strategies and other Teacher Worthy Ideas

Is Poetry a Dying Art in Elementary School?

It’s been my recent experience that elementary level of school doesn’t acknowledge that poetry is a wonderful use of our language and is so full of symbolism and heart.  I’m NOT talking about Rap, by the way.

Today’s and yesterday’s poetry allow students to sharpen their listening habits and their sensitivity to words and phrases.  Our life today absolutely distracts us from listening to nature’s sounds and seeing its amazing beauty.  So many young children absolutely don’t listen to instructions.  They’re so used to using their eyes via smartphones and tablets that they can’t understand.

So, what should we do to instill this poetry as an enrichment and valuable Language Arts institution?

Perhaps poetry could be introduced during the month of February in what we used to call President’s Month?  Find some poetry about each of our past Presidents.  Share not just the statistics about each person but also their feelings as interpreted by poets.

I just found this poem in a collection, “the poet and his country,” collected by Vincent Godfrey Burns, former Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland, published in 1963.  This poem tries to portray the  heart and desperation of George Washington and his freezing cold army.

Here are a few stanzas from this poem.  If read with emotion and a large screen showing one of the many paintings of these days, you can only succeed.  Adding activities about emotions, geography, weather history, etc. this poem can bring understanding of our country’s great leaders.

“Around him Valley Forge lay deep

Beneath the blanket drifts of snow.

Held in the winter’s icy grip

Were fields and woods and vales below;

And here and there in rude attire

Some ill-clad sentry paced his beat,

While by a meagre, smoking fire

The soldiers warmed their bleeding feet.

He stood, a figure tall and strong,

Against the red declining sun;

Beside his ragged, motley throng

With patient thought stood Washington;

He watched his men with mind intent

As from his cheek he brushed a tear,

Then quickly walked from tent to tent

With words of comfort and of cheer…

Another soldier then replied:

“General, it’s not for me to talk–

But this week forty men have died–

And half my men can hardly walk;

They are all starved or nearly dead–

We can’t hold out another day!”

He frowned, but kept a level head–

“Then we will wait and watch and pray!”..

“Pray!  Who ever heard of such a thing?

You can’t win battles with a prayer!

If we surrender to the King

At least we’ll get some decent fare;

I’m fed up on this pious play

Of watchful waiting and of faith,

When all we get from day to day

Is cold, and suffering, and death!”…

One soul held on to see it thru–

A world was changed that midnight hour…

A praying man knelt in the snow:

“Lord, help me wait and watch and pray!”…

And then a starlit flag shone there

Unfurled above the hills of dawn,

For in the power of that one prayer,

The nation that we love was born.”


Please let me know what you think.




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