I am delighted that the Academy of American Poets inaugurated in 1996 National Poetry Month, which is now held every April. Taking poetry “off the mantle”— saving it for meaningful occasions—and putting a little bit into our everyday lives is a good thing. I think of a poem as a vitamin for the spirit.
Having said that I never understood the wisdom of having a 6-week unit of poetry. I remember well those 6-week units and by the end, I had enough poetry to last me a lifetime and I didn’t want to hear, once again, the ubiquitous question “What is the meaning of the poem?” In my way of thinking a better question is to ask: “What is the mood that is deposited after you read the poem—how does the poem make you feel?” I want children meeting poems that elicit a wide range of emotions—happy, sad, cheerful, reflective, humorous, soulful, heartfelt and others.
In our hurried lives, poetry offers the opportunity to get lost in a picture of words and feeling and reminds us to slow down and savor the everyday. Robert Frost’s poem, A Time To Talk captures that sentiment.
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still land look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.