Monday, May 30, 2011

Poems for Homes: "That memory may their deed redeem/When like our sires, our sons are gone"

Memorial Day reading list -- pieces written and sung long ago but fitting for today:

"Concord Hymn" (Emerson)

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

"To Lucasta, Going to Wars" (Lovelace)

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov'd I not Honour more.

Nickel Creek's "The Hand Song" is a modern, moving story about a young soldier who learned to give it all at his mother's knee.

Thank you, dad and John John for your lives of service. "If war is ever lawful, then peace is sometimes sinful." (CS Lewis)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poems for Homes: Lit Bit

Lit Bit Enrichment Class
Below is the syllabus from the enrichment class for 4-6th graders at our Fine Arts co op. Class goals: a "treeline" overview of literary genres and devices, demystify some terminology, and introduce children to great works.

Start with these descriptions:
Literary Device=Writing Tool (metaphor, alliteration, rhyme, etc)
Literary Genre=Writing Type (novel, play, poem, etc)

The class was meant to be a supplement only to the children’s language arts classes at home. It was comprised mostly of 10- and 11-year-old boys, and it took place Friday before lunch.
Hence we avoided writing exercises for the most part, and instead did some acting, reading aloud, drawing (hyperbole and onomatopoeia), a few games, fun worksheets, and had good discussions.

For example, we might discuss the definition of alliteration and then read a line or two (or three or 10) from a great work illustrating it.

This “treeline model” proved to be a great way to just introduce them to a few great works of literature in a way that was non-threatening and palatable to wiggly 5th grade boys. (And it was loads of fun for their teacher.)

At the end of the year the children presented memory work – 10-30 lines they chose to memorize from several selections offered.

How delightful is it to hear the first 13 lines of Chaucer’s "General Prologue" from The Canterbury Tales on the lips of a skinny, 11-year-old, tow-headed boy in sneakers and baggy shorts? “When April with her showers sweet with fruit/The drought of March has pierced unto the root…” Or to hear a tousle-headed, tee-shirted boy who loves Bionicles recite Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. ”Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…”

How delightful to hear a wee little slip of a girl with a brown ponytail boldly recite “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” “Half a league/ Half a league/ Half a league onward/All in the valley of Death rode the 600…”

Or to hear a freckled boy with round glasses whose mom is battling cancer recite Robert Frost. This child chose “The Road Less Traveled.” “I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence…”

Yes, my dear, and so shall I.

In many cases, Wordsworth’s line that “the child is father to the man” is very good news.

Syllabus: Lit Bit, 2010-2011 academic year

Each semester we covered various aspects of literary structure. We discussed each aspect, read and analyzed samples from great works of literature, and in some cases, wrote our own samples.

Fall Semester: (a sampling of) Literary Devices

Spring Semester: Literary Genres
This semester, in addition to studying the genres below, each child memorized a piece of literature from a great work. (They chose from a list comprised of pieces from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Byron, Tennyson, and Frost.)

What is The Western Canon?
Fiction vs Nonfiction VERSUS Truth vs Falsehood
Poetry: rhyme, meter,
Fairy/Folk Tale/Fable
Newspaper/magazine article