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06 March 2017

Loving Our Poetry

We started reading poetry a while ago. That sounds like so much more than it is: every day, I read 3 poems. One "belongs" to Hero, one to Dragon, and Peanut gets one too. And that's all we do: just read them. Honestly, I have wondered if there was any significant impact, because while the kids do like them enough to ask for them now, we seldom try to discuss them, or even narrate them. But I'm trying to help them to love what is lovely, and poems are, to my surprise (I was a reluctant skeptic at first), quite lovely.
Discovering the joy in poetry with my children, in spite of my initial skepticism. #CharlotteMason #AllTheRiches

Now, probably more than a year after we started reading poems, I finally saw concrete evidence that the poems are impacting my son: he grabbed the book after I was done reading them, and started reading it on his own.

Discovering the joy in poetry with my children, in spite of my initial skepticism. #CharlotteMason #AllTheRiches

I was probably not as wise as I should have been: my emerging reader was reading, and reading beautiful literature. But I wanted to get to our scripture boxes, and get some things marked off our list. I may have threatened to take away the book if he didn't pay at least a little bit of attention to the matter at hand. This was his reaction:

Discovering the joy in poetry with my children, in spite of my initial skepticism. #CharlotteMason #AllTheRiches

We came to an agreement where he got to continue to read the poems. And my eyes are a little more open to the value of our little poetry readings, and the richness that they offer, because of the thought-provoking nature of this incident. Hopefully, next time, I will be more wise in my efforts to find balance between lingering over the lovely things and getting through our list of tasks. It can be tough, some days!

They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. ... we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature - that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.
-Charlotte Mason 2:263, emphasis original

I'm so glad that we have found Classical Education and Miss Mason's gentle wisdom to help us all grow to be more fully human, more fully reach our potential as God's children. It makes the whole of our lives more beautiful to be making the attempt, however unsteady it sometimes is. Good poetry, despite my initial skepticism, really does deserve a place among the "best books" that we ought to be using to educate ourselves and our children.

... seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith...
-Doctrine and Covenants 109:7


Rozy Lass said...

So glad you are reading poetry with them. I read a blog recently where the writer complained! about the archaic language in some of the hymns in our hymnal. I couldn't believe it. I commented that I LOVE the archaic, poetical language of the hymns and that I hoped we'd keep them because it makes church different from everyday language and much more special. He also thought we should get rid of the thy, thee, thou language of prayer and the scriptures. I was aghast! It is that language that sets us apart from the mundane and gives me, at least, a feeling of intimacy with my Father in Heaven. Keep up the good work!!

Ritsumei said...

I tend to get anxious about the grammar when I mess around with the archaic thee/thy stuff in prayer. It's fine for public praying; that's less intimate, less urgent. But when I pray on my own, I usually use my own language because then I can concentrate on the impressions of the Spirit, and the revelatory process, without worrying if I'm getting the ancient grammar right... which stresses me out and distracts me. I don't want to be thinking about subject/verb agreement when I'm trying to get answers to prayer! And I don't think that it matters a bit to our Father how we dress our thoughts -- it's the actual intent and feeling behind the words that matters. The style of verbage we choose, I believe, it's any more important than the style of clothing we wear: fashion is only important to mortals.

That being said, I love the poetic quality of the King James more than any other Bible version that I've looked at. I'm glad it's our standard version; I think it's totally worth the effort to get to know the old words. But I have a certain amount of sympathy for those who struggle with it: we spend a fair amount of time in my youth Sunday School talking about the meaning of words, not just in the scriptures, but also in the talks the brethren give. Yesterday it was "acquiesce" that they needed help to understand, and I'm pretty sure that there were others that they should have asked about, but didn't. Unfortunately, it's harder for adults to ask for help with the big words and the old words, because it tends to leave people feeling like they're asking stupid questions, and if you don't have a background in that kind of language, then it would be tough to break into.

I love the hymns, too. Wouldn't have thought that they were archaic at all... that kind of cracks me up. Which ones were you thinking about as being archaic? I bet that I think, "Oh, yeah, that is a little bit dated usage..." but I can't think of any right off the top of my head.

Rozy Lass said...

I believe the hymn was Lead, Kindly Light; and the word was garish. The blogger didn't know what that word meant. I was shocked, but I decided that the person must be much younger than me, or not well read or he would have known that word. Anyway, when I'm teaching, whether adults, teens or children, I explain the meaning of words that might be obscure or unknown to some readers. I don't know everything so I keep a dictionary near me when I'm reading just about everything. I look up words to make sure I'm understanding it correctly. I think teachers can do a better job of opening the scriptures and conference addresses to their students. And all of us students can do a better job of learning at home and coming to church prepared.

I love the King James version too; some of the passages just sing with glorious imagery and gorgeous words. I find it helps learners to hear the scriptures read by a professional (on tapes or cd's) or by a very fluent reader so that one can hear the beauty of the message without stumbling over pronunciations and odd sentence structure.

Another thing I've done when teaching children music in Primary is to explain that we sing words differently than we speak them. If lyrics seem to be backward I explain the thought being expressed and remind them that lyrics are poetry set to music. That helps the children to become comfortable with the cadence and imagery of the lyrics. When they understand they sing much better.


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