Flashback Friday ~ National Poetry Month

Welcome to the
Childhood Poetry Edition
of Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday is the brain child of Linda from Mocha With Linda. This is the meme that takes us back in time to the days of our youth. Linda says, This meme’s purpose is to have us take a look back and share about a specific time or event in our lives. It will be fun to see how similar – or different – our experiences have been! This week Linda wants to know:

What poems do you remember from your childhood? Did you have to memorize many poems for school when you were growing up? Did you learn any just for fun? Do you remember which ones they were–and can you still recite them? Did you have a poetry book that you liked to read? Do you enjoy poetry today? Do you prefer rhyming poetry or free verse? Whimsical poetry or epic poems that tell a story? Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Have you ever written any poems?

The first form of poetry I remember is Nursery Rhymes. I loved them!  In fact, I still do.  One of my favorite silly ditties, which I learned in first or second grade, is made up of a combination of Nursery Rhyme and song bits:

My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I
Sing a song of six pence, pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing
Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?
Where oh where can he be?
He’s in the corner with Little Jack Horner
Eating his one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot crossed buns!

In the third grade we studied a unit on weather and had to learn to spell whether and weather. We were also asked to memorize the following poem:

Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
Whether the weather be warm
Or whether the weather be not,
What ever the weather
We’ll weather the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

That was also the year we learned:

Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one;
Except that quite contrary, February,
Which has twenty-eight most of the time,
But in leap year twenty-nine!

From 5th to 7th grade I carried around a volume of Ogden Nash. One day I put it down and it simply disappeared. I don’t know if I left it somewhere or if it grew legs and walked off. You’d think as many times as I read the book I would have something memorized, but I don’t.

In the 7th grade I memorized all of Hiawatha. Every word! I had to recite it aloud as my semester final. Today I remember only the first line, just like most everybody else in the world. I have no idea why memorizing that was supposed to be a vital part of my education.

I still remember one of the first poems I ever wrote — I don’t know why I couldn’t remember one of the better ones instead of something silly, but silly rather fits who I am. [shrug] The poem was written in response to a lot of ribbing. I won a huge purple teddy bear at the fair and lugged it home (three mile walk) right through the middle of town where, apparently, everybody and their Aunt Velma saw me. So:

I resent people saying I’m stupid.
I’m not. I’m really quite smart.
But when it comes to reality
With my teddy bear I won’t part!

I guess, given all that I’ve already written,you won’t be at all surprised to learn that Shel Silverstein is one of my all time favorite poets.  I own all of his books, and have memorized a number of his poems.  One of my favorites became my teaching motto:


Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me–
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

-Shel Silverstein
1932 – 1999

Politically Incorrect ~ NPM Day #4

One advocates change.
The other stands on its laurels.
One wants total renovation.
The other is content with the status quo.
One wants to maintain.
The other wants to destroy and rebuild.
Each seeks total control.

Debate, their first-born child,
Is abandoned.
Compromise, their next-born,
Is rejected.
Hope, spontaneously aborts.
Triumph, withers in the womb,

Charlene L. Amsden