Friday, May 20, 2011

A Sunshine Holiday

"...And the jocond rebecks sound
To many a youth, and many a maid,
Dancing in the Chequer'd shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a Sunshine Holyday."

                 --John Milton from his poem l'allegro

My grandma Marge was a big Milton fan.  I must say, I wish I got Milton. I mean, I can get parts, but to try to follow a whole poem, is beyond me.  L'allegro--cain't!  Paradise Lost---fuggetaboutit.  Oh well, I can glean little bits of meaning, like from the excerpt above, which I love. Of course until I looked it up, I thought jocund rebecks were happy birds (actually they're fiddles).  But no matter, I get it, and love the celebratory mood of it.  Today is bright and sunshiney and feels like a holiday, if not a Holyday.  I belong to the Church of the Warm Spring Day. 

And it's shaping up to be a fine one, indeed.  I have spent the morning talking about poetry with a class of bright 6th graders.  I read their odes, their 'where I'm from' poems, and their apology poems, in the style of William Carlos Williams' poem, This is Just to Say.  We have some good shorty poets here!  Their teacher is also having them carry a poem in their pocket with the eventual goal of learning it by heart.  So, I was treated to several recitations, some great  poem choices, and one about cheerleading. Not that I have anything against cheerleaders, as that would be hypocritical (again, Go Bucks!).  But...
Anyhow, I love that the kids have a chance to know a poem well, to wear it like a scrunchie!  I was made to memorize a poem in 6th grade, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by R. Frost, and I still know it!  By heart!  Now, I know lots of other poems, too and it secretly pleases me to have a repertoire of poems at the ready.  You never know when a poetic moment will arise.  If you want to memorize something, I think carrying it around in your pocket and looking at it throughout the day is a great way to go.  If I could know any poem by heart, I'd want to know Ode to a Nightingale by Keats but that may be a stretch as it's loooong.  But soooo goooood. 

What poem would you want to know? 


  1. Already do! By heart! Yet for the life of me, the name of the author escapes. Robert. Something.

    The Widow
    It's not yet cold enough to ask the neighbors for wood.

  2. 'Byzantium' by Yeats, which was written later than his 'Sailing to Byzantium'. Memorizing a poem might be a good goal for the year...

    Love the Poem in a Pocket concept. Was it done as part of National Poetry Month? A friend who's in the same line of work as me in California and I have been building pages about poetry on our respective websites: