Category Archives: Poetry

Poetry Friday: A Blessing for Wedding

I just love the way every line of this poem is a picture. Something hopeful for an early March morning.

A Blessing for Wedding – by Jane Hirshfield

Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you…

(read the rest here…)

Poetry Friday: Bright Star

Last weekend I watched Jane Campion’s newly released film, Bright Star, about John Keats’ love affair with Fanny Brawne. It’s a good Valentine’s film, tragic of course, but if you can convince your fella to watch it I think you’ll be impressed by the onscreen chemistry and you may learn a little more about Keats. So, educational and sexy and doomed. That works. And it is very beautifully filmed, with lots of lingering shots and scenes of the fair and moody English countryside.

The title of the film is after Keats’ poem, Bright Star, and the movie suggests that he was inspired by his love for Fanny Brawne to write the sonnet. This has not been proven, but it’s a sentiment worthy of almost-Valentine’s Day.

Here’s that sonnet:

Bright Star – by John Keats

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

Take a look at the teaser for the film:

Ah romance. Happy Valentine’s Weekend!

(Poem at

Poetry Friday: Hope

This is a week for hope. May many find it and keep it aloft.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops – at all -

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

(…read the rest here).

Poetry Friday: Happy as a Dog’s Tail

I am hoping that next week I will feel happy as a dog’s tail. That would be grand. For now, cute dog picture + poem will have to do.

Happy as a Dog’s Tail – by Anna Swir

Happy as something unimportant
and free as a thing unimportant.
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.
As something mocked by all
and which mocks at their mockery.
As laughter without serious reason.
As a yell able to outyell itself.
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.

as a dog’s tail.

Poem from Poetry Foundation, photo from stock.xchng.

(Don’t you love that?)

Poetry Friday: Red Sings from Treetops

If I could, I would be a kids’ poetry teacher. Does such a job exist? I wish it did. I adore teaching poetry. I adore poetry books written for children. It would be dreamy to spend my days introducing young’uns to beautiful verses and talented poets. There’s been a bit of a shift away from teaching kids to read and write poetry, I think, with so much emphasis being placed on developing literacy skills that are “practical” in the world. In my experience, children enjoy reading and writing poetry. It would be a shame to sacrifice that experience in the name of teaching more “job related” text forms.  Reading and writing poetry teaches you to think, obvserve, pause and reflect. Pretty important skills for anyone in the “real world” I think.

I will now step down off my elf-sized soapbox to tell you a bit about a truly gorgeous poetry book for children, one that has been sitting on my desk for way too long, waiting to be reviewed here at Shelf Elf. Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is a collection of poems inspired by the seasons. This book celebrates the natural world as it moves from season to season, focusing on the colours as they change from spring all the way through to winter. The colours are actually more like characters. They sing and hold hands and sip lemonade and keep secrets. Sidman’s verses are perfect, with rich and evocative language that bring the essence of each time of year vividly to your mind. Here’s a bit on Fall,

Fall smells
old leaves, crushed berries,
squishy plums with worms in them.
Purple: the smell
of all things
mixed together.

But since it’s wintery now (finally a little snow in my neck of the woods), here is a snippet from the winter section:

And White?
traces its wet finger
on branches and stumps,
White dazzles day
and turns night
inside out.

A wrestle, a romp,
a feast:
winter tastes White.

Pamela Zaragrenski’s mixed media illustrations offer so much to look at. They are whimsical – a whale floats in the fall night sky behind the moon, the little creatures wear tiny crowns in all of the pictures. The collage elements are detailed and surprising, and just flicking through the book from beginning to end moves you from the fresh blues and greens of springtime to the dull grey and brown and bright white of winter. (*Sigh*)

From an educator’s perspective, this is a book that is teeming with potential curriculum connections: Science, Art, Language, Media. It’s a rich text for teaching, without a doubt.

Note: this is the second collaboration between Sidman and Zagarenski. You must also buy and love This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, another book that makes me want to teach poetry and only poetry for ever and ever. I think these two ladies need to write more books. Give us more!

Other bloggers love this too (‘natch):

7 Imp
Wild Rose Reader
Laura Salas
A Patchwork of Books
Fuse #8

Red Sings from Treetops is published by Houghton Mifflin.

Winter Trees

Winter Trees- by William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.



Yes. The leaves are gone. I know because I was the one who raked them all up. One good thing about winter being almost here. No more raking.

(From Poetry Foundation. Image from stock.xchng.)

Poetry Friday: Choose


Sometimes I use my feisty 1/2 Irish heritage as an excuse to choose quick temper over patience. I confess. More and more though, I’ve learned that choosing the high road, the open hand held out, leads to better things, and I think I’m starting to get pretty good at making this better choice. This week I had a few lessons in this. I’ve liked this poem for a long time.

Choose – by Carl Sandburg

The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.

(Poem from Poetry Foundation. Photo from stock.xchng)