What Poems Should I Read My Kids?

Kids have more imaginative minds than we give them credit for — and believe it or not, sometimes they have an easier time interpreting complex imagery than even we do. For that reason, there’s really no “bad” poem to read your kids. Maybe put down Edgar Allen Poe for a few minutes before bed, but in general your best judgement will usually do the trick. That said, here are one or two of our very favorites.

“The Crocodile” was written by Lewis Carroll, a poet who lived from 1832-1898 — and proof that oldies can still be goodies. This strange poem provides a gentle aura to creatures that are usually terrifying.

How doth the little crocodile

     Improve his shining tail,

And pour the waters of the Nile

     On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,

     How neatly spreads his claws,

And welcomes little fishes in,

     With gently smiling jaws!

Here are a couple stanzas from Edward Hirsch’s “Fall,” a poem about seasonal change. We strongly recommend sharing this one over a mug of hot chocolate on a cool autumn day. Hirsch’s ability to set the mood of fall is exemplary by nearly any measure of the written word.

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season 

Changes its tense in the long-haired maples 

That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves 

Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition 

With the final remaining cardinals) and then 

Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last 

Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground. 

At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees 

In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager

And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever 

Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun 

Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance, 

A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud 

Blamelessly filling the space with purples.

Poetry Topics: What Should I Ask My Students To Write About?

Many teachers will inevitably ask their students to write about whatever they feel like writing about. Sometimes an assignment will relate to a book read for class. But other times it can be most beneficial to provide students with a framework, context, or abstract idea and let them run with it. Giving the entire class the same idea can lead to some strangely provocative work! Here are a few easy ideas for poetry topics.

One classroom professor (whose name we will absolutely mention: Joseph Cardillo), routinely gave his college students a one-word framework about which a poem needed to be written. One of those topics? The word “lips.” Another? The word “eyes.” There was no other direction provided. A poem needed only incorporate the word. The results were fun, to say the least. 

Asking students to write a poem about a specific topic can inspire interest. Ask them to write about where they grew up — a town, community, state, province, or country are all fair game. The most provocative, insightful poetry will come from those who were born outside of the country, and help other students understand outsiders a little more.

You can also ask students to write about abstract concepts like a bad dream, love, the feeling of falling asleep, what it’s like to be underwater, etc. Ask them to write about a sight, sound, emotion, or anything else related to the five senses. Ask them to write about things they haven’t yet experienced for themselves! What is it like to become a parent? What is it like to climb a mountain? ….Explore outer space? Anything is fair game.

Children love to dream. Ask them to write about a fantasy, like a super power they wish they had. There are so many options! And keep in mind that these prompts don’t just work for high school students or little kids — they will work just fine for you, too!

Pandemics Have Always Inspired Poetry

Life and art are interconnected as are the past and present. When confronted with the harshness of reality, we try to remember what others went through during similar events in the past. We try to take inspiration from their survival. Certainly we take it from the words they left behind. It should come as little surprise that poets never let a good crisis go to waste — and a devastating pandemic is as good a crisis as any.

One poem called Cholera from the modern era is a testament to the horrors of even worse outbreaks. It reads:

It is dawn.

Listen to the footsteps of the passerby,

in the silence of the dawn.

Listen, look at the mourning processions,

ten, twenty, no… countless.

Everywhere lies a corpse, mourned

without a eulogy or a moment of silence.

Humanity protests against the crimes of death.

Cholera is the vengeance of death.

Even the gravedigger has succumbed,

the muezzin is dead,

and who will eulogize the dead?

O Egypt, my heart is torn by the ravages of death.

Another work of poetry called Night Visitor evokes images of love, stress, and darkness in the face of inevitable death.  An Iraqi named Ahmed bin al-Hussein al-Kindi wrote it sometime during the 10th century after contracting a fever in Egypt. It reads:

For she does not pay her visits save under cover of darkness,

I freely offered her my linen and my pillows,

But she refused them, and spent the night in my bones.

My skin is too contracted to contain both my breath and her,

So she relaxes it with all sorts of sickness.

When she leaves me, she washes me

As though we had retired apart for some forbidden action.

It is as though the morning drives her away,

And her lachrymal ducts are flooded in their four channels.

I watch for her time without desire,

Yet with the watchfulness of the eager lover.

You can understand why many of us turn to these poems today. The novel coronavirus is extremely infectious and has a higher fatality rate than the seasonal flu, but many American citizens haven’t even begun to take the virus — or the disease it causes, COVID-19 — seriously. That failure will result in even more emotional pain as the cases, and eventual deaths, continue to mount. 

The best we can do is continue to share information, take care of one another, and explore works from the past in order to better cope with the present!

“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe

One of the most influential poems of all time is called “The Raven” and was written by none other than Edgar Allen Poe. While the poem can be read through as no more than a simple story of a man’s love for the mysterior “Lenore,” it can obviously take on a more universal appeal.

Who among us hasn’t felt that kind of longing for another person at one time or another? Those feelings of love — unrequited or not — drive us in much that we do. We love, we lose, and we mourn. Those are the universal truths by which we are all bound.

Here’s an excerpt from the famous poem:


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

            Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

            Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—

            This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—

            Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—

            Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.

“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;

      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—

Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—

            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Hart Crane’s Best Work Of 1869

How many of us don’t listen to our urges? Perhaps most intrinsic of all human dispositions is that base desire to explore — a thirst for adventure. That’s what Brooklyn Bridge represents in a fan-favorite Hart Crane poem, To Brooklyn Bridge. Here it is in its entirety:

Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge

by Hart Crane

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest

The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,

Shedding white rings of tumult, building high

Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes

As apparitional as sails that cross

Some page of figures to be filed away;

—Till elevators drop us from our day …

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights

With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene

Never disclosed, but hastened to again,

Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced

As though the sun took step of thee, yet left

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—

Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft

A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,

Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,

A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,

A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;

All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn …

Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,

Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow

Of anonymity time cannot raise:

Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,

(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)

Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,

Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift

Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,

Beading thy path—condense eternity:

And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;

Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.

The City’s fiery parcels all undone,

Already snow submerges an iron year …

O Sleepless as the river under thee,

Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,

Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend

And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

The bridge represents the potential inherent in an epic adventure that we all must embark upon at some point in our lives, whether personal or actual. In this poem we get to congregate with all those explorers who came before us. Perhaps most of all, To Brooklyn Bridge is a metaphor for the American resolve to make things bigger and better — to constantly strive to achieve the very best we can achieve. And perhaps that is what makes the poet timeless.

Exploring the Poetry Resurgence Under The Trump Administration

Probably no one will find this surprising, but the number of new poems seems to have skyrocketed under the Trump Administration, which seems hell-bent on destroying everything it touches — especially if it was penned by the Obama Administration. If you’re as disgusted as we are, here’s a good poem to explore those feelings. It’s called Revenge by Elisa Chavez.

“Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.

I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending

the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;

I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel

and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;

I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.

With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,

my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck

and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,

because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.

You just delayed our coronation.

We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;

we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business

because it’s still nobody’s business;

there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic

for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,

and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:

we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,

the buildings here are not on your side just because

you make them spray-painted accomplices.

These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.

Even the earth found common cause with us

the way you trample us both,

oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,

and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them 

but I won’t, because they’re my family,

in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.

If you’ve never loved someone like that

you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.

I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;

I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,

I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down

and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.

But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.

We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder

the longer they spend burning us,

we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading, 

by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?

We know everything we do is so the kids after us

will be able to follow something towards safety;

what can I call us but lighthouse,

of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.

And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,

anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.

This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.

You cannot deport our minds; we won’t

hold funerals for our potential. We have always been

what makes America great.”

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The Most Erotic Poems Ever Written

Poetry has long been a medium for which to direct our innermost thoughts to others who might be feeling something similar–or something different. Pen to paper is one of the greatest ways of exploring the taboo, the unthinkable, or the things we most want to have but can’t. Some of these poems are violent, some are sensual, some are erotic or sexual, tantalizing, dirty or timid. Here are a few of the most erotic poems ever written!

  1. Anne Carson told The Autobiography of Red, an unusual love story based on mythology. The story follows the “monster” Geryon who was sexually abused by an older brother. Geryon finally finds release through Herakles, although the love affair is not without its ups and downs. Who doesn’t love a good homoerotic romance with ambiguous literal or figurative monsters thrown in for good measure?
  2. Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet known for his love poems, including “Every Day You Play.” This poem is savage and sensual, and blatantly erotic. It’s also one of the most beautiful and well-written poems you’ll ever read. “The rain takes off her clothes. / The birds go by, fleeing. / The wind. The wind.” This one is well worth the adventure.
  3. Anne Reeve Aldrich was a talented American poet, who wrote “Servitude.” It’s worth a read, as are her other works in The Rose of Flame. Like many popular poets, she found greater prominence after an early death at the age of 26.
  4. To a Dark Moses” was written by African American Lucille Clifton, a poet and writer. She gained much renown during her 73 year life, and almost won two Pulitzer Prizes in poetry. Her publication of “homage to my hips” was a rare work of art that helped women–and African American women in particular–find freedom in sexual expression through power and understanding.
  5. Audre Lorde was known as a source of pride for lesbian feminism as an activist and writer. She gave us “Recreation,” sensual and sexual as it is. She’s also well known for her common expression of outrage at the state of civil rights during her life. She grew up in the 30s and 40s and passed away in 1992. She identified as a poet, mother, feminist, African American, and lesbian, although she was careful not to allow any one identity overtake another. She wanted to use those parts of herself to bring others together in celebration of differences.

Famous Phrases By Shakespeare

In The United States, we have a love-hate relationship with Shakespeare. While many of us dreaded reading his plays in high school due to the sophistication of the language, theatre lovers consider it a privilege to present his works. But without Shakespeare, the English language would not be where it is today because not only did he invent words that we use today, he invented common phrases that are used all the time. Here are some famous phrases that have been attributed to Shakespeare. This is not the same thing as famous quotes such as “star-crossed lovers” or “to be or not to be” or “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” – these are phrases that we use in our everyday vernacular that were first introduced to us by Shakespeare.

Bated Breath – Merchant of Venice

This phrase refers to breathing that is subdued because of some emotion and/or difficulty. Shakespeare used “bated” as an abbreviation for the word “abated” which means to bring down or lower. In 1933, the phrase was featured  in the poem Clever Cruel Cat but was misspelled as “baited.”

Fancy-Free – Midsummer Nights Dream

This phrase describes the feeling of being without any ties or commitment. The word fancy in Tudor England meant “amorous inclination” or in today’s vernacular enormous enthusiasm.

Forever And A Day – The Taming Of The Shrew

This term means exactly as it sounds and cannot actually exist. Forever is ever and therefore you cannot add days to it. Shakespeare used this as a dramatic emphasis.

Good Riddance – Troilus and Cressida

This expression refers to the pleasure of getting rid of something, usually a person. The term “riddance” was first used in a poem Away Mourning in 1525 and simply met getting rid of. Shakespeare coined “good riddance” to describe the positivity that can come from getting rid of something.

In A Pickle – The Tempest 

In a pickle simply refers to being in a difficult situation. The word “pickle” refers to being disoriented or mixed up as the stewed vegetables that were used in original pickles (spicy sauces used to accompany meat). Similar to the phrase “in a jam” where instead of vegetables, it is the fruits that are mixed up and disoriented.

Wild Goose Chase – Romeo and Juliet 

This phrase refers to searching for something but never finding it or pursuing something that is futile. A “wild goose chase” however is not running after a wild goose and chasing it. It refers to a terminology in horse racing where the lead horse is at a set distance which mimics wild geese flying in formation.

For more clever phrases written by Shakespeare, please feel free to visit their website.

 

 

Analysis of Whitman’s Famous Poetry

O Captain! my Captain! These famous words have been uttered countless times around the globe, becoming nearly commonplace. However, many do not know their origin — Walt Whitman’s beautiful poem published in his book, Leaves of Grass:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

As well written as this poem may be, it can only be truly appreciated after understanding its meaning. The poem itself is an elegy, or a somber poem reflecting and lamenting on the dead. In this case, it is an elegy to a Captain who recently passed away. Further, it is celebrating the safe return of their ship to its home port. Whitman starts off by describing the hardships at sea, but contrasts this with the cheers of the people on the mainland — celebrating their return. Unfortunately, he then goes on to reveal that the captain lies on the deck, “fallen cold and dead.” In the following stanza, Whitman begs the captain to rise again and witness this splendid scene of joy, joy induced by their successful return. Further, he states that the captain is loved by the masses: “For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.” Yet, this matters not, as the captain remains dead, albeit it all just feels like “some dream.”

In addition to the aforementioned analysis, many feel that Whitman intended this poem to have a much larger meaning. The poem was written shortly after President Abraham Lincoln’s untimely death, as he was assassinated in a theater by John Wilkes Booth. Thus, it is believed that the captain is a metaphor for Lincoln, who was adored by many. The ship then represents the war-plagued nation, finally freed from the woes of the Civil War. Knowing this, the poem takes on an entirely new, righteous significance. As with many other poets, Whitman’s poetry is best appreciated after an in-depth look.

The Great Mind Behind Wonderful Writings: Who Is Robert M. Drake?

You have probably heard about many great writers who have caught the interest of many people across the world in a hit and run accident. Their unique and creative ways of expressing thoughts in words paved the way for them to be recognized and appreciated by other people. One of the popular names in this field is Robert M. Drake. He has been successful at sharing his thoughts about life and other aspects of life.

Robert M. Drake On Instagram

How did Robert Drake use social media to be one of the best-sellers on Amazon? His story has inspired many people especially those who aspire to become a great writer. He has focused on using Instagram to introduce his works and be a source of strength and motivation to many. R. M. Drake’s work can be seen in the Instagram feeds of many popular celebrities such as Ludacris and the Kardashians.

What makes his works more interesting is that these are set in typewriter font and handmade gray paper. His literary works ruminate death, loneliness, and love. In fact, he has more than one million Instagram followers, about 20, 000 likes on his Facebook account, and 16, 000 Twitter followers.

Robert M. Drake, or Robert Macias, is a self-published writer. Each time he posts his new work, he garners numerous comments and likes. However, the exception of an understated signature which is “r.m. drake” at the bottom. There is a little context given to what these words refer to, where it is originated from and other details about him.

Recently, his book entitled ‘Beautiful Chaos’ is one of the best-selling books in the poetry category of Amazon. His works are the 7th best books in the company Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allan Poe. R. M. Drake sets apart from other famous writers because he did not gain popularity because of a publishing deal but through likes and comments on Instagram.

Drake has started writing at the primary level of his studies. He also worked for a TV company as an art director in Miami. He has gained exposure when he posted excerpts of his unique writings to social media. From then on, he has taken the path of being a self-published writer through various booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. With about 4,000 sales per month, his contribution deal helped him leave his job and just focus on his lifelong dream of becoming a full-time commercial writer.