Feelings run in various directions, regarding the Common Core standards, but one thing we notice in the standards is an emphasis on some pretty impressive poetry. We would love to see teaching methods attend to the heart and soul of these poems, using what we call the How to Read a Poem approach.
Beyond that, we believe one great way to engage with a poem is with a dose of good humor. This partly explains our Common Core Picture Poems. What explains the rest? We’re Tweetspeak Poetry. We do have a reputation to uphold.
Musée des Beaux Arts
About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Read Icarus’ Gift by Anne M. Doe Overstreet, for another take on Icarus.
Try Your Hand?
Find something to love in Auden’s poem and explore it with a drawing or a found poem of your own.
Illustration by LW Lindquist.