Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

One of the wonderful things about being a teacher is that you are paid, in part, to learn. Much of this learning comes via discovery and exploration during lesson planning. I bring you then poetry Wednesday, the result of a rabbit trail adventure for the benefit of my 6th and 7th grade English students:
The first poem, by Galway Kinnell, is really one of the more incredible poems I have read in a while. "William Goode," by Edgar Lee Masters, expresses what I have felt in various ways for some time now. Yet Grace paints strangely linear lines among the zig-zags of our striving. Finally, "After making love we hear footsteps" surely will resonate with any new (or old) parents. 

First Song

 by Galway Kinnell

Then it was dusk in Illinois, the small boy
After an afternoon of carting dung
Hung on the rail fence, a sapped thing
Weary to crying. Dark was growing tall
And he began to hear the pond frogs all
Calling on his ear with what seemed their joy.

Soon their sound was pleasant for a boy
Listening in the smoky dusk and the nightfall
Of Illinois, and from the fields two small
Boys came bearing cornstalk violins
And they rubbed the cornstalk bows with resins
And the three sat there scraping of their joy.

It was now fine music the frogs and the boys
Did in the towering Illinois twilight make
And into dark in spite of a shoulder's ache
A boy's hunched body loved out of a stalk
The first song of his happiness, and the song woke
His heart to the darkness and into the sadness of joy.

Hear the poet read his poem

A masterful song by Andrew Bird using Kinnell's words:

William Goode

by Edgar Lee Masters
To all in the village I seemed, no doubt,
To go this way and that way, aimlessly.
But here by the river you can see at twilight
The soft-winged bats fly zig-zag here and there --
They must fly so to catch their food.
And if you have ever lost your way at night,
In the deep wood near Miller's Ford,
And dodged this way and now that,
Wherever the light of the Milky Way shone through,
Trying to find the path,
You should understand I sought the way
With earnest zeal, and all my wanderings
Were wanderings in the quest.

After making love we hear footsteps
by Galway Kinnell

For I can snore like a bullhorn

or play loud music
or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman
and Fergus will only sink deeper
into his dreamless sleep, which goes by all in one flash,
but let there be that heavy breathing
or a stifled come-cry anywhere in the house
and he will wrench himself awake
and make for it on the run—as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our bodies,
familiar touch of the long-married,
and he appears—in his baseball pajamas, it happens,
the neck opening so small he has to screw them on—
and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.

In the half darkness we look at each other
and smile
and touch arms across this little, startlingly muscled body—
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making,
sleeper only the mortal sounds can sing awake,
this blessing love gives again into our arms.


  1. What, Jericoh is already walking into your bedroom? So advanced!