Friday, August 20, 2010
In Seattle, even in the summer, the cloud cover often doesn't burn off until mid day. People here have a different attitude about summer rain here than they do in Tucson where I lived for so many years. What is the speaker's attitude toward summer rainfall in Emily Dickinson's "Summer Shower"? Does the poem give us any clues about the climate of the land in which she lives?
Monday, August 16, 2010
Classified as poetry, Natasha Tretheway's "Letter Home" blurs the lines of genre. The narrative is an authentic bit of history that dates back to 1910. It tells the story of a young black woman who travels to the big city of New Orleans, seeking opportunities, but experiencing daily frustration and dwindling finances. In an era of extreme racism -- of closed doors -- she is trying to pass as white, but wonders who she is actually fooling.
Friday, August 13, 2010
The return home: another common theme in literature and music. Often it's portrayed as a time of reconciliation or celebration -- hence the word 'homecoming'. In Emily Dickinson's I Years had been from Home", though, fears wins out. The speaker doesn't quite make it through the door.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
It can be interesting to study poems in thematic sets. Here we have yet another meandering body of water. Tennyson's "The Brook" can be contrasted with Frost's "Hyla Brook" and "Going for Water". One of the most striking things about "The Brook" is that the speaker is the brook itself: a personified creek.
In what way does the brook "go on forever"?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
It's quite a task: learning to analyze literature. When young people are beginning that journey, we often asking them to make connections -- text to self, text to text, text to world. Tagore's "Journey Home" is a good poem for text to text connection as it carries a timeless theme that recurs oft in literature for young and old: We set out to find lives for ourselves and may ultimately find that what we seek has been in us all along -- or that our true home has been waiting the whole time for us to retrace our steps and returns. The images in this poem remind me of The Little Prince (the selected book for the first Global Read-Aloud Project). The brief reference to the multitudinous steps that one may take to create a simple melody... well, that may create text to self connections in music students. I can envision quite a discussion.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
As I post "Tree at my Window", I am inches away from a window where curtains are not drawn nor blinds lowered. But between me and the nearest tree -- unlike the scenario in the poem --I find an alley and buildings.
A message of affection directed at a tree, Robert Frost's "Window Tree" can also be read as a celebration of love between yin and yang: opposites. Much of the poem can be appreciated at either the literal or symbolic level. (The tree is concerned with "outer weather"? Indeed.)