I remember certain poems from childhood.
Their rhythms and rhymes soothed me like a lullaby, and I’ve found myself seeking them during troubled times as an adult. The glorious mental images they evoke likewise give me peace.
Through online searches and library books, I located some of my favorites so that I could offer a few samples here.
While reading Tennyson’s The Eagle, I became that eagle—powerful and free. The poem itself is powerful–and short–with appealing alliteration.
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
I knew Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud as the title Daffodils, and it cheered me. Here are two excerpts:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I’d memorized Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, and it came back to me almost in its entirety. But the ending is what always got me. It spoke of responsibilities.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I found The Builders by Longfellow as an adult but wished I’d read it as a child. We build a better world with honest deeds, no matter how small, and we prepare for the next. Here’s the beginning:
All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low;
Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
I hope children and teens continue to be exposed to the work of these great poets and find comfort in them.
Two books of poetry for young people that I enjoyed lately are Poems to Remember, which inspired my most recent personal blog post, and The Children’s Treasury of Classic Poetry. I’m sure there are many other good ones.
Do you have a favorite poem? How does it speak to you?