Once upon a time, a little girl attended the annual Thanksgiving feast at her aunt’s house and discovered a plate filled with beautiful, glossy miniature fruits. Set apart from all the other appetizers, their brilliant colors called out for more attention than the bold Chiquita Banana Lady in the ads of the era. “Take a bite,” they stage-whispered. “Our flavor is even more exquisite than our beauty.”
The little girl popped an apricot shape into her mouth for she loved apricots above all other fruits. Ohhh. Surely, the taste of heaven filled her mouth! She couldn’t help it. In no time at all four – or was it five – more pieces disappeared from the plate. Sad that she couldn’t eat it all, for someone was bound to notice, she abandoned the table.
I was that little girl, who shortly thereafter suffered a major tummy ache. The candy-fruits were marzipan, the richest, sweetest dessert I’ve ever experienced. Composed of almond paste, molded into complex shapes rarely larger than the diameter of a quarter, and decorated in rich colors, marzipan is a culinary work of art. And NOT to be gobbled. You savor each nibble allowing the flavor to glide over your tongue over and over.
Poetry is served best in the same manner. (See Poetical Immersion) I savor one poem over and over when I read poetry. The marzipan of literature.
I had promised to share a few of my favorites. Here they are:
“Eletelephony.” I’m a person who loves mixing and matching words, and Laura E. Richards does a delightful job of making it a game.
I learned two of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems while a young child. Often in bed with strep throat in those early years, I identified with “The Land of Counterpane.”
The poem “My Shadow” fascinated me because I had just discovered what shadows can do. Imagine that a grown-up wrote about the same phenomenon!
For rhythm, expression, and fun, I taught Eugene Fields’s “The Duel” to my fifth-graders. They learned to drop their self-consciousness at the door and use their voices to over-emote the silliness of toys and household objects personified during the ridiculous spat.
Once my students were at ease with the above introduction to poetry, we moved on to “When the Frost Is on the Punkin’” by James Whitcomb Riley. They could use onomatopoeia of “clackin’ and cluckin’” with alacrity, and the class next door could hear the rooster’s “hallylooyer!”
My all-time favorite is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. He offers me ripples of reflection as I consider the what-ifs of life. What if I had chosen a different college? Where would I be living? Who would I have married? What if I had never taken the National Novel Writing Month challenge six years ago? Would I be writing a blog today? What might I be doing instead?
“What-if” is the exquisite question to ponder every time I read “The Road Not Taken,” for in life, we truly cannot retrace our steps and find out what might have been. Yes, I will savor the poem and allow it to glide through my mind over and over once again…