Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Flashes from the Past: Poets Among Us

"At the age of nine or ten, he told me, he wrote "a few little versus about the sadness of having to start school again every Monday morning." He gave them to his Mother and hoped they had not been preserved. At about fourteen he wrote "some very gloomy quatrains in the form of the Rubaiyat" which had "captured my imagination." These he showed to no one and presumed he destroyed." - Valerie Eliot on T.S. Eliot

Poetry is not at the top of list of educational concerns because it is a non-essential, something that is usually meant to be read or listened to at leisure. Well, as in every age, there are poets among us, but will we discover them? Occasionally, we have seen some of these promising young poets in our clinic. They beam as they read their verse, but then the tidal wave of non-poetical work begins to spill over ...poor time management, handwriting problems, inattentiveness, and smiles fade.

There are many strikes against young promising poets these days, but it's also important to remember that some of these children's irreplaceable gifts aren't easily exchangeable like numbers in an accountant's ledger. Gifted poets capture a sentiment, a discomfort, or inspiration, and their importance is not easily calculable.

When all is said and done, many people with unbalanced gifts will find more success building on what they can do extraordinarily well, than what they are able to do competently like everybody else. When these poets are young, they may be woefully out of step with their peers, but they benefit by protected time, acceptance, and encouragement.

Here's another poetic Flash from the Past... this stubborn rhymer so frustrated his father that he was physically disciplined. His spirit was not so easily defeated though, because he cried, "O father, do some pity take, and I will no more verses make."

(Who was this? Young Isaac Watts, later to become a prolific English hymn writer (Joy to the World), logician, theologian, and writer of the excellent book The Improvement of the Mind that inspired Michael Faraday)

http://www.danagioia.net/essays/ecpm.htm>Can Poetry Matter?
ENL Blog: Great Parents Who Read to Their Kids
ENL Blog: Improvement of the Mind (Isaac Watts) and Michael Faraday
Wikipedia: Isaac Watts

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