Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Poem Can be Consoling

A Poem Can be Consoling 

     Small clouds are sailing,
     Blue sky prevailing,
     The rain is over and gone!
                    William Wordsworth 

     The calendar was filling up with gray clouds, rain, sleet, drizzle, and fog. But the day I gathered ideas for this post was different. It was a storybook March day – chilly, windy - puffs of white clouds sailing across a blue sky - a perfect match to Wordsworth’s “Written in March.”

     I eyed this welcoming sky through the parlor window glass in between the pages of my reading. On gray days my little bottles on the window are a substitute blue. But on that afternoon I enjoyed the real thing. 

     In my reading I came upon a poem celebrating springtime. It was written by one of Miss Charlotte Mason’s students. Not only did Miss Mason’s students narrate in prose from the subjects they were learning, sometimes the assignment was to narrate in verse. E. G. age 17 is one narration example. I share part of the poem here with you.    

Come spring, thou fairest season come!
With the bee’s enchanting hum,
And the dainty blossoms swinging
On the tree, while birds are singing,
See how they clothe the branches gray
In dress of freshest pink, all day,
Then when the dewy evening falls
They close their flowers till Morning calls.
Sweet Morn! Spring leads thee by the hand
And bids thee shine o’er all the land;
Thou send’st forth beams of purest gold,
To bid the daffodils unfold,
While Spring bends down with her fresh lips
To kiss the daisie’s petal tips.
And as she walks or’er the green sward
A cheerful mavis, perfect bard
Breaks into song; his thrilling notes
Are echoed from a hundred throats
Of eager birds, who love to sing
To their sweet mistress, fairest Spring. 
. . .
Oh!  Spring my heart’s desire shall be
That thou wilt ever dwell with me!
"May-time" by William Stephen Coleman 1829-1904 English

     Isn’t it lovely? Forgive my abridgment. The full poem can be found on pages 208 and 209 of Philopsophy of Education.  

     Seeking more poems about spring I returned to our trusty hardcover copy of Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris. Some poems are like old friends. One of mine --one I couldn’t help memorize along with my little girls -- because I read it aloud several times a day for a week in 1989 -- I remember distinctly because that was the spring my son was born -- is “Who has Seen the Wind?” by Christina Rossetti. Do you know it? 

     You can see that our well-worn Famous Poems Old and New is straining at the seams. 

     William Wordsworth 1770-1850 and Christina Rossetti 1830-1894 are two of the classic “old” poets in this thick book of almost 600 pages. “New” poets such as Ogden Nash 1902-1971 and Eleanor Frajeon 1881-1965 have a place, too. Poems might be cute, comical, calming, patriotic, sad, silly, serious, or religious. This selection of poems entered the ears and imaginations of my children age 5 to 13. But older people (like mothers, fathers, teachers) enjoy them in their own way. 

     The poems are divided by theme into eighteen sections. Each theme is decorated with a line drawing by L. Weisgard. What a wealth of poems for home learning! 
     In the introduction the author gives us paragraphs about the fond memories of her childhood. Doesn’t it sound like Helen Ferries experienced a sort of  “gentle art of learning?”

“This book had its beginning years ago when two parents, loving poetry, made it as much a part of their children’s every day as getting up in the morning, eating breakfast, going to school, playing outdoors until suppertime.”

     Are we in too much of a rush to read a poem? It takes only minutes to read one. Perhaps there always seems to be more important things to attend to – what highly efficient people call “the essentials.”  And yet, we are all the better for reading just one poem. Be careful. This may be as difficult to do as munching just one potato chip
     It isn’t necessary that poetry be made an everyday affair as it was in the childhood of Helen Ferris. We create the story of our homes. Sprinkle poems into the schedule – however-whenever. And souls will be enriched.   


     If you are intrigued by the idea of giving to your students an assignment to express themselves through a narration of verse, first lay a foundation. Put young children in touch with a variety of poems now-and-again for some years.
     Are you starting narration with older students and haven’t got years? Months of familiarity will do.

     I finished hooking my chair pad with wool yarn this winter. While I wait for my budding flowers to bloom I have spring poems to console me.

     I also gaze upon the flower on my chair pad. It might be a pink dogwood or a plum blossom.  

     See how they clothe the branches gray
     In dresses of freshest pink, all day

Thank you, E.G., whoever you are.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola


  1. Karen, your chair pad is just darling! Oh Spring...where are you? m.

  2. We are enjoying having a few daffodils start to open. And yet, we've had snow three times in the past week!

    Lovely chair pad, Karen.


  3. We too are longing for Spring here at our house. The iris that live in our front bed never really know that it's winter. They usually bloom a good three weeks early, and this year is shaping up to be no exception. Our temperatures are threatening to be in the mid-twenties tonight. The iris are swollen with purple buds. They have weathered many early spring freezes over the years. Perhaps they will do it again tonight! I hope so. They are such a beautiful sight in bloom.

    Today the sun is warm and the air is cool. We had a beautiful blue sky in the earlier part of the day. The clouds are blowing in now (which may prove to be the salvation of the iris later tonight).

    Enjoy the anticipation of Spring!


  4. What a lovely post.

    We've done a bit of poetry here and there, but I'd like to include more.

    I'll have to look up the one by Wordsworth. It looks interesting!


  5. I knew "Who has seen the wind" as a nursery song, I didn't realise it was a poem. Thanks for sharing.

  6. What a lovely chair pad, Karen! We are longing for spring, as well. Our daffodils are opening and the hyacinths are coming up. I love this time of year. :)
    Blessings to you,

  7. Our copy of Favorite Poems is one that my great-aunt (librarian and teacher!) picked up back in the 50s. I love poetry, so I held on to it for many years. Imagine my delight when I saw that it is still in print!

  8. Karen,
    Your chair pad is beautiful. I am enjoying listening to our almost nine year old daughter pick up the poetry books I "leave" around and just start reading aloud - she is loving poetry.

  9. We have just begun again reading from Favorite Poems each day. Right now we are going through our country's history in poetry! My 2 year old runs to get the book. :o)

  10. Thanks for the link to the poetry book. I have a few poetry lovers in my house. We are enjoying our biggest snow yet this year ...and it's headed your way. Still the hope of Spring soaks in the flakes and waits its turn. May you have a blessed passover week.

  11. Lovely as usual...every time I crack open Helen Farris' collection, I'm delighted!!! Thank you for the reminder to share more poetry with my children!

  12. You are wonderful. I have followed you for over 10 years...since the beginning of my homeschooling years. I cannot tell you how much of a blessing your books, your suggestions, and your family reviews have been to me and my family. As I am re-reading Pockets and Blackberry for the 100th time...(they are my absolute favorites) I must ask you again.....when will you write the next book? I simply must know the rest of the story. I have grown to love Carol and her family of course, but her specifically like a best friend or sister. I must know about the baby, and Don and Emily, and Emma. I long to know the rest of the story.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart...I love you and your family dearly...
    God Bless,

  13. I'm sorry, I have another did you keep track of your children's "assignments"..for lack of a better word. Did you use a type of journaling style to keep track of books, etc? Or did you have a lesson planner of sorts? I have done a bit of both and I am currently keeping track of things using a online planner. I am just curious.

    Thank you again and God Bless,

  14. I need to order a new copy of the book. I gave almost all of my books I used for homeschooling to my daughter.

    I tell people once the kids leave home, it gives me a chance to enter my second childhood and those poems are perfect for that phase. ;)

    Love the needlework!

  15. It's so nice to hear from you, Ladies.

    I make book friends too, and I'm happy my characters have become friends of yours. Thank you for your sweet words. Although my characters sometimes live out new adventures in my head at night when all is calm and quiet, I'm busy with other writing these days.

    In my record keeping years, I kept a calendar-type journal sometimes, other years just a black & white composition book was used to jot down brief entries. Eventually my girls kept their own school diary and followed my time-table.
    Here in Pennsylvania a student's portfolio is examined by a state certified teacher of the parent's choice. We got along well with ours.

    Happy Easter,
    Karen A.

  16. As a child, I never read poetry unless required until I was introduced to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Since I began homeschooling, I've been introduced to Whitman, Wordsworth, Wadsworth, etc. My bonus daughter writes poetry and I'm in awe with her talent.

    I hope you have a wonderful spring season! Hugs!

  17. Your Charlotte Mason Companion is a great part of my inspiration to expand our knowledge of poetry in our homeschool! I am always amazed at how a few minutes per day can reap such benefits!

  18. Your poetry book is not worn, is well-loved!