Remember your favorite playground games? Whether you played Hopscotch, Tether Ball; Red Light, Green Light; or braved the Dodgeball court, one thing was clear– recess was defined by rules. In order to play, we needed to learn how to play.
Didactic poetry is a type of form that seeks to instruct. It is poetry with direct intention. Didactic poetry originated in the proverb, a miniature form. The Greeks established a traditional model to their verse, with a purpose which operated in two ways: It taught how to do something, like how to keep bees or plow a field. It could also teach what to know about something, such as philosophy or mathematics. Hesiod is considered the father of didactic poetry. In his poem Theogony (ca. 700 B.C.E.), he explains the genealogy and myths of the gods, the origins of the cosmos. He also lovingly tends to practical matters and teaches about farming methods in his poem Works and Days (ca. 700 B.C.E.).
Even Robert Frost leaned toward the idea of poetry as entertainment and instruction when he said that a poem “begins in delight and ends in wisdom.”
Put your books away and come join us outside on the playground. Pick your favorite playground game and write a didactic poem on either what the reader needs to know about the game or how to play it. Here are a few traditional playground games to help you along. Share your poem with us in the comment section below. Let’s play!
In last week’s prompt we explored sports. Rick cast his line and shared a poem about the sport of fly fishing: