Friday, April 11, 2008

Enjoying Poetry

Poetry has always been something I've enjoyed. When I was young, I began writing short poems; as I grew, they got a little longer. My poems speak about life and my thoughts and dreams, though they're probably not what you'd call amazing works of art! =) I also enjoyed reading poetry, though I never really ventured beyond the few I encountered in various literature books or read online.

Last week when we went to the library, I ventured into the adult non-fiction section - a place, for some reason, I'd never really looked through before. I found quite a few books that would be a pleasure to read! However, I already had so many books I needed to read at home, that I just chose one: Favorite Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I decided that I'd read a little each day for school, as I wanted to become acquainted with some of the more classic poetry. Besides, I'd heard of Longfellow, even memorizing his "The Village Blacksmith" when I was 10.

That day I began the book, first reading the introduction about his life, then reading the first poem before I had to go on to something else. Now, I read rather quickly, and am apt to skim things sometimes. I didn't want to do that with the poems, for you loose so much unless you take the time to savor each of the majestic words. I tried reading the last few stanzas of the poem out loud, and was amazed at the difference it made! The rich words came alive! Enthusiastically, I began the next Monday on the next poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish". I read out loud on the swing, dramatizing the narration, and enjoying the musical sound of the poetry. Though I felt kind of silly reading out loud with no one around but the birds and squirrels to listen (actually, I was glad I was alone!) I really enjoyed the experience! I read the rest of that poem the next day (at 36 pages long, my voice couldn't read it all in one sitting!) and thoroughly enjoyed how the story came alive through the beautiful words. The mighty Standish, Godly Alden, and the sweet Puritan maid Priscilla - it all wove together in lovely story of true love! The next day I read a few of the shorter poems, including the classic "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", and have gone on from there.

It's neat how things you learn in the past come back and help you later on when you'd least expect. When I was 14, I'd taken a poetry class at drama camp. At the time, it hadn't seemed extremely useful. Now, however, I've been able to apply the ways they taught us to read poetry, and it's been such an enriching experience! Reading with pauses for punctuation not pauses after each line or trying to read only rhythmically makes the poem sound much richer, and helps convey the meaning so much better!

Whether you're a poetry enthusiast or not, next time you read a poem, try reading it out loud. You'd be amazed at the difference it makes! The time I get to read poetry each day has become one of my favorite parts of my home education. Not only is it familiarizing me with classic poetry, it's also giving me an opportunity to dramatize and practice speaking well!

Oh - and if you want to start with a good poet, may I suggest Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? His poems are well written and fun to read. The way he weaves in Scripture or lessons from the Bible is also very nice!


Maria Pauline said...

Ooo... I might just have to find some Longfellow and call it American Lit...

Ella said...

I always read most books aloud! I love it that way!! I can't remember who wrote the poem, but I want to go and re-read "The Lady of Shallot." But I won't act it out as Anne does!

Anna Naomi said...

Maria Pauline: That's what I did. =) It's nice to read something that "counts" as schoolwork and really enjoy it!

Ella: You read mostly out loud? I don't know if I could do that - my voice would get tired! I suppose you really remember what you read that way, though. Oh yes, I remember when Anne recites that poem! Pretty funny. =)

Miriam Rebekah said...

Yes, I love reading poetry aloud. It brings it to life.

Ella said...

Anna, it helps me to concentrate and really focus on what I read. I find that I retain more by reading aloud. But yes, my voice can get tired!

eliasboudinotismyfriend said...

I do enjoy reading poetry, though I generally prefer to do the writing myself. :)
It's kind of like reading a book rather than watching a movie, there's so much more imagination that way! ;)

I will definitely be having to check out a Longfellow book at the library next time. By the way, what was the book you checked out called?

Reading poetry outloud definitely does help you understand sometimes ;), as well as bring the words off the page.

eliasboudinotismyfriend said...

Sorry about that, I read back over the post and found that you had already named the book! :) Opps!

Anonymous said...

I'll definitely be checking that book out soon!
~Princess S