Thursday, October 2, 2014


Today, my students were smitten by this poem:

The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

They begged to continue to  read it out loud together next week and declared  ' We must"  but there are some who just can't wait to see how the courtship goes and will read on. They are to zip their mouths in class next Tuesday! They are also romantics! We know who they are! 

See this line below: You must not now and then tuck a pill into the jam.
( you must not what? be content that the poem  shall always charm... and then 
tuck a pill into the jam... which means help the poem in some way. It will delight on its own with the use of rhyme and rhythm)

Charlotte Mason's Parent's Review :  An Address on the Teaching of Poetry

The poetry must be such as to delight them, (1) by being in itself delightful; and (2) by being suitable to their years.

(1) The poetry must be itself delightful. All the poetry they learn must be delightful. If you wish poetry all through life to preserve its charm for them, you must be content that it shall always charm. You must not now and then tuck a pill into the jam. I speak as a parent when I say that I can understand that the temptation to do this may be irresistible, but it must be resisted. You must be content that the names of the faithful spies, the laws of mechanics, and even the nature of Repentance, shall lapse from your children's memories IF they cannot be treasured there without the use of rhyme and rhythm. Rhyme and rhythm are to be sacred to joy, and these other things are not joyful. Need I add that learning poetry must on no account be made a punishment.

(2) The poetry must be suitable to their years. You must not expect little children to enjoy what you enjoy. You can drink claret, perhaps port, perhaps champagne, they cannot; their natural beverage is milk. The sources of joy open to them are the simplest, and to these you must bring them. The grandeur of Milton's blank verse will be as little to them as an organ concerto of Handel's; they must have simple rhythms to begin with, and they must have rhyme; they must have verses that sing themselves. And the subjects, too, must be appropriate to their age. There is an age, just beyond Nursery Rhymes, which finds its most exquisite joy in the "land of counterpane." For such in our generation Louis Stevenson has written, or, in a more ideal way, Blake, in some of his "Songs of Innocence." And let me say here, in a parenthesis, that I agree with Miss Mason (whom we all delight to honour) in somewhat dreading nonsense verses for children as being a trifle (shall I say) profane. I once heard a mother of the upper classes reciting to her young hopefuls these graceful and spirit-stirring lines:

"Old Mrs. Hubblechin,
Had a little double chin."

What a criticism of life! Keep verse for the serious joys of life. Then, for children of an older growth, there are narrative poems, such as Mrs. Hemans' "Casabianca.." There is Longfellow, the very poet of reflective childhood; and for those older, again, there is Scott, there is Macaulay, and there are the "Northern Ballads." There are poems too for all moods--poems that breathe and inspire the joy of patriotism, like Campbell's "Battle of the Baltic" and "Ye Mariners of England," Cowper's "Boadicea," and "The Royal George," Burns' "Scots wha hae," Browning's "Herve Riel," Tennyson's "Revenge," Taylor's "Red Thread of Honour," Yule's "Birkenhead"; poems full of the joy of romance, such as Allingham's "Up the Airy Mountain," Browning's "Pied Piper," Arnold's "Forsaken Merman," Coleridge's "Kubla Khann" and "Ancient Mariner"; poems of the joy of earth, like Shelley's "Cloud and Skylark," and poems of man's fellow-creatures, like many of Cowpers.
And then there is Shakespeare  from whom alone, almost, one might feed one's children from boyhood to old age.

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