Last week snow fell from San Antonio to Atlanta before moving up the Eastern seaboard to a more likely spot for a winter snowfall, New England. I know my good friend Leda Schubert was thrilled to see the snow fall in Vermont, where she lives (“the center of the universe,” as she calls it.) But across the country the headlines were focusing on the South: “Snow snarls flights at world’s busiest airport,” read the headline in USA Today (and don’t you’ love a good headline…”Snow snarls flights” – isn’t that poetry?)
Snow in Atlanta put me in mind of a beautiful poem by Kevin Young. It wasn’t written for kids, though I’m hoping we can all expand our sense of what kind of poetry is appropriate for kids. Read this one through. It’s simple, direct, it looks effortless. Certainly a 10-year-old child could hear it and think about it; not all poetry for kids needs to be rambunctious. The ending is a bit of a puzzle, but not beyond pondering – and why not let poetry teach children that life is puzzling?
As simple as it looks, there’s lovely music in the way the words flow and the sounds the words make. Music – melopoeia – that’s one of the three elements that poet Ezra Pound attributed to poetry. The other two are phanopoeia (the casting of an image) and logopoeia (harder to define.) I think of logopoeia as intellect – the mind coming in to play, usually discerning meaning behind the music and the image.
In any case, here’s the perfectly-titled poem. Ditty: “A short simple song.” Remember to read it aloud, and you’ll hear the music. And just imagine: a person rare as Georgia snow! The minute the poem starts with that opening phrase, you belong to it.
You, rare as Georgia
spell that catches
us by surprise.
The too-early blooms,
tricked, gardenias blown about,
circling wind. Green figs.
Nothing stays. I want
to watch you walk
the hall to the cold tile
night, a lifetime.
Kevin Young, 1970
Poet Kevin Young
By the way, it’s Poetry Friday. Diane is hosting the round-up over at Random Noodling. Head over there to see what other people have posted.