In response to a recent post about the value of “at least trying” someone sent me the poem If There be Sorrow by Mari Evans.
After reading, I just had to share it along with a few more of her poems.
#1 If There Be Sorrow
If there be sorrow
let it be
for things undone . . .
to these add one;
Love withheld . . .
. . . restrained
The boys and I enjoyed this poem, which reminds us to “keep on keeping on” and to not grieve if things do not always work out, but to grieve if we holdback and stay restrained!
#2 Where Have You Gone by Mari Evans
Where have you gone
with your confident walk with your crooked smile
why did you leave me
when you took your laughter
are you aware that with you went the sun
and what few stars there were?
where have you gone
with your confident walk
your crooked smile
the rent money in one pocket
and my heart in another . . .
#3 CELEBRATION by Mari Evans
I will bring you a whole person and you will bring me a whole person and we will have us tiwce as much of love and everything
I be bringing a whole heart and while it do have nicks and dents and scars, that only make me lay it down more careful-like
And you be bringing a whole heart a little chipped and rusty an’ sometime skip a beat but still an’ all you bringing polish too and look like you intend to make it shine
And we be bringing, each of us the music of ourselves to wrap the other in
Soft as a choir’s last lingering note our personal blend
I will be bringing you someone whole and you will be bringing me someone whole and we be twice as strong and we be twice as true and we will have twice as much of love and everything
This next poem,When in Rome, is most frequently taught in middle school:
#3 When in Rome by Mari Evans
the box is full
whatever you like
to eat (an egg
…there ain’t no meat.)
there’s endive there
(whew! if I had some
on the shelves
get my anchovies
too much (me get the
what she think, she got –
a bird to feed?)
there’s plenty in there
to fill you up.
(yes’m. just the
Hope I lives till I get
I’m tired of eatin’
what they eats in Rome…)
#1. When in Rome:
Teaching idea: Students may want to reflect on the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do,” which is what Mari is “playing off of” as she writes about “when in Rome.” This old saying is used to suggest that at times we need to go with the flow. Mari is noting that yes, sometimes we yield and modify what we do for the sake of grace and social smoothness. As Mari’s choice words also show the inner struggle of “going with the flow” we get a sense of humanity – we get a feel for a healthy person who can express not being on board with the current situation – and as she says “I’m tired of…” – we also share in her social angst, albeit mild, but we have all been there – uncomfy and stretched; consequently, in this very individual view there is also a universal appeal as we all have our preferences.
Teaching idea: The “When in Rome” poem can be used to talk about the gift of food. As Mari refers to the fortifying sardines, she touches upon not just enjoying food, but also in the fortification of different items. For example, “Me get the anchovies indeed! what she think, she got – a bird to feed?” We feel a sense of the sound nutrition she wants from the dense, tasty meat.
After talking about the food – read the poem again and see if anyone is hungry. This also allows the students to feel the literature – which occurs when we spend time with it!! Have students talk about cultural differences with food and maybe even share family favorites – or times they were out of their comfort zone regarding food options. (Check out Amy Tan’s Fish Cheeks for more on culture at the dinner table).
You also may want to discuss what a “comfort zone” is and why it is good to have one, but also why it might be good to be challenged from staying there all the time.
Teaching idea: Have students note the diction and words used. Mari purposefully lets us feel the grammar and language of the everyday environment from her neighborhood – which aligns with the food selections and adds to the tasty cultural setting she paints with her words. Also, the specific references to the foods she does prefer, like anchovies and black eyed peas, is added on purpose – and in a way it celebrates these foods to memorialize them in writing – while it adds to the rich cultural feel of this poem, where her tasty cuisine reflects a bit of her heritage as well.
Teaching idea: Distinguish the difference between colloquial, slang, and jargon (and maybe talk about auxiliary language).
Teaching idea: Note the message of adapting here is NOT the same thing as compromising beliefs – this just means that regarding some of the smaller issues, like food and etiquette, it is “good manners” and socially nice to adapt and yield a bit.
Teaching idea: It is beneficial for us to adapt to the customs of a place we are visiting and Mari Evans touches upon this – and so use this poem to talk about social graces and times we give and yield – it is a good thing!
Teaching idea: Mari splits up the poem with her thoughts inserted among the dialogue, and so we also get a bit of a cultural comparison among the differing foods. This can lead to discussion about types of cultures and food prefs, but also TYPES of poems, use of imagery (representation through language of sense experience), tone (writer’s attitude toward the subject, the audience, or herself; the emotional coloring/meaning,), subject matter, culture poems, social learning poems, free verse, etc.
#2. The Celebration Poem
The Celebration poem is special for a few reasons.
First, it is just fun in the romantic way – “And we be bringing…. each of us the music of ourselves to wrap the other in…” ❤
Second, teens can talk about how relationships take two “whole” people. Yes, we merge, yes we yield, and yes we give our all to become one – but if we lose a sense of who we are and if we give up the wholeness we have – well the relationship suffers. So we need to keep our cup fill – but NOT at the expense of the union – instead, as a complement to the union! And as Mari notes – so “we be twice as strong and we be twice as true and we will have twice as much of love and everything.”
Third, this poem talks about baggage and how we all “do have nicks and dents and scars” – and so this may lead to talking about how healthy natural it is to have bumps and bruises from a well lived life. We fall and have bumps when we take risks and when we are fully alive.
Fourth, the boys and I read this poem earlier this year, and the the two fleas and dog analogy came up – or the triangle analogy – where the Lord is the third part in any successful union.
#3. Poetry terms and words to review:
This can be set up as a matching exercise.
connotation denotation simile metaphor imagery personification
symbol sarcasm satire allusion hyperbole understatement
rhythm alliteration stanza sonnet haiku limerick
1) repetition at close intervals of the initials consonant sounds of accented syllables or important words
2) something that means more than what it is; may be read both literally and figuratively
3) fixed form of fourteen lines, normally iambic pentameter; two main types: Italian, English
4) reference, explicit or implicit, to something in previous literature or history
5) figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two things essentially unlike
6) fixed form consisting of five lines of anapestic meter; riming aabba; exclusively for humorous or nonsense verse
7) figure of speech in which exaggeration is used in the service of truth
8) figure of speech that consists of saying less than one means, or of saying what one means with less force than is warranted
9) wavelike recurrence of motion or sound
10) figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made between two things essentially unlike; made explicit by use of like, as, than, seems, etc.
11) bitter or cutting speech
12) figure of speech in which human attributes are given to an animal, object, or concept
13) representation through language of sense experience
14) what a word suggests beyond its basic definition
15) three-line poem, whose lines usually contain respectively 5, 7, and 5 syllables; Japanese in origin
16) group of lines whose metrical pattern is repeated throughout a poem
17) kind of literature that ridicules human folly or vice with the purpose of bringing about reform
18) the basic definition or dictionary meaning of a word
#4 Poetry Terms
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE: Language using figures of speech and it cannot be taken literally.
IMAGERY: The representation through language of sense experience; language that appeals to the senses.
FIGURE OF SPEECH: Any way of saying something other than in an ordinary way.
The following is a list of common figures of speech
SIMILE: A comparison between two unlike things using words such as: like, as, than, similar to, resembles, etc. I.e. Quiet as a mouse
METAPHOR: An implied comparison between unlike things. I.e. He’s a house.
ALLUSION: A reference to something in history or literature. I.e. She had a Cinderella wedding.
ALLITERATION: The repetition of initial sounds. I.e. Seven steaks sizzled.
CONSONANCE: The repetition of end consonant (every letter that is not a vowel) sounds. I.e. first and last, odds and ends, stroke of luck.
ASSONANCE: The repetition of vowel sounds. I.e. My words like silent raindrops fell.
PERSONIFICATION: Giving human characteristics to an animal, object, or idea. I.e. The hours crawled by like years.
PARADOX: An apparent contradiction, which is nevertheless somehow true.
ONOMATOPOEIA: “Sound words”; Words whose sound suggests their meaning. I.e. buzz, click, snap, chop.
OXYMORON: The setting together, for effect, two words of opposite meaning. I.e. burning cold, screaming whisper.
OVERSTATEMENT (or hyperbole): An extreme exaggeration used for effect. I.e. I’ve told you a hundred times…; I’m starving; The suspense is killing me.
SYMBOL: Roughly defined as something that means more than what it is. I.e. A wedding ring is a symbol of commitment, love, honor, etc. It is not just a ring. It’s shape (a circle) is also symbolic; a circle never ends and therefore the love is not supposed to.
PUN: play on words.
UNDERSTATEMENT: Saying less than what is meant, for effect.
More literary terms HERE
Interesting Poetry Posts
Here is a post from KIWINANA (Elsie Hagley) with her Poetry Tanka Prompt and a variety of poetry styles.