Poetry Month: Day Seven

One week down. Take a look around: we made it. I’d pat you on the back were that in any way possible.

Instead, I’ll offer you a few voices from a book I’d love to see taught alongside The Sun Also Rises and The Scarlet Letter in US classrooms. Honestly, I’d love to see fewer white (primarily American) men providing the material and more of everyone else, but here we are.

Poetry was shoved to the side in every English class I took growing up, and knowledge of or interest in it was only to be used as a garnish to the three square body paragraphs one served to the mysterious SAT/ACT/AP/etc. markers. But Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology could be just the thing to fix that. For students, the buzz of each ghost’s tale of sorrow or song might be enough to make them forget their terror of “getting it wrong” in class. For teachers, the stories and themes overlap well enough that reading schedules and quizzes could be made without worry of disrupting the experience. I don’t know what the exam companies would get out of it, perhaps shy of a bit more variety in the essays and happier markers as a result.

Cassius Hueffer

They have chiseled on my stone the words:
"His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him
That nature might stand up and say to all the world,
This was a man."
Those who knew me smile
As they read this empty rhetoric.

My epitaph should have been:
"Life was not gentle to him,
And the elements so mixed in him
That he made warfare on life,
In the which he was slain."
While I lived I could not cope with slanderous tongues,
Now that I am dead I must submit to an epitaph
Graven by a fool!

Mrs. Sibley

The secret of the stars,--gravitation.
The secret of the earth,--layers of rock.
The secret of the soil,--to receive seed.
The secret of the seed,--the germ.
The secret of man,--the sower.
The secret of woman,--the soil.
My secret: Under a mound that you shall never find.

The Unknown

Ye aspiring ones, listen to the story of the unknown
Who lies here with no stone to mark the place.
As a boy reckless and wanton,
Wandering with a gun in hand through the forest
Near the mansion of Aaron Hatfield,
I shot a hawk perched on the top
Of a dead tree.
He fell with a guttural cry
At my feet, his wing broken.
Then I put him in a cage
Where he lived many days cawing angrily at me
When I offered him food.
Daily I search the realms of Hades
For the soul of the hawk,
That I may offer him the friendship
Of one whom life wounded and caged.

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