Poetry

This post is the second part of my resource book assignment for COMM 3400.

CA Content Standard: 3.0 Literary Response & Analysis (Grade Three)

Structural Features of Literature
3.1 Distinguish common forms of literature (e.g., poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction).

Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
3.2 Comprehend basic plots of classic fairy tales, myths, folktales, legends, and fables from
around the world.
3.3 Determine what characters are like by what they say or do and by how the author or
illustrator portrays them.
3.4 Determine the underlying theme or author’s message in fiction and nonfiction text.
3.5 Recognize the similarities of sounds in words and rhythmic patterns (e.g., alliteration,
onomatopoeia) in a selection.
3.6 Identify the speaker or narrator in a selection.

bk_CatInTheHat

Title:  The Cat in the Hat

Author: Dr. Seuss

I checked this book out from the CSUStan library for my niece, Deborah because one day she came home to spend the weekend with us, and she said that her teacher brought in a big black cat with a funny hat.

The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss, is a book geared toward children ages four through seven. But I found it is most appropriate for a first grade reading level. For a third grader it is easy to read.  One of the important Content Standards that readers can amplify from this selection is standard 3.3 where they will learn to determine how each character is according to what they say or do.  For example, Cat’s character is portrayed as a freelance extrovert, but a deeper illustration of who he is is reflect by his attitude towards order and rules; following his spontaneous desires are more important than following tradition rules. Students will benefit from Dr. Seuss’ unique rhytmic patterns in this poem.

The Cat in the Hat is a narrative poem that tells the story of the Cat that brings a cheerful, exotic and exuberant form of chaos to a household of two young children one rainy day while their mother leaves them unattended. Bringing with him two creatures named Thing One and Thing Two, the Cat performs all sorts of wacky tricks to amuse the children, with mixed results. The Cat’s antics are vainly opposed by the family pet, who is a sentient and articulate goldfish. The book maintains a strict triple meter using a limited amount of vocabulary while telling the entire story.  The narrator of the story is “I” which is Sally’s older brother.  Dr. Seuss uses an anapestic tetrameter as his structure for the verses. An anapestic foot is two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable (da-da-DUM).  (Example:  “we-did-NO-thing-at-ALL.”) Using punctuation, meter, rhyme, and repetition the author creates sense of continual action and spontaneous environment which falls in line with the unpredictable character of Cat.  This narrative poem has about 220 sentences and almost half of them use an exclamation.  This causes a roller coaster effect in voice intonation while reading out loud.  I find this interesting since a roller coaster is usually found in theme parks or fairgrounds where the main purpose to to be a place of fun, and this is what the children are longing and what Cat is offering.  The narrator (Sally’s older brother) and the fish mostly speak in a statement manner (more down to earth/serious tone) while Cat exclaims!  Another literary element is the repetition of words.  It brings meaning to the text because it serves as a platform to what the children want to escape from, boredom and repetive activities.  One of the most repeated phrases is ironacally “The cat in the hat”.  There is a balance between this repetitive scheme and the character’s spontaneous attitude.  Although the phrase is repeated, boredom is never around when “the cat in the hat” is present.  The typical rhyme scheme of the text is abcb  (the final words on the second and fourth lines rhyme, but the 1st and 3rd do not).  The author uses the element of anthropomorpism to give unique human characteristics to non-human creatures such as the cat, the fish, One Thing and Two Thing.

One of the most cultural references in this text is the concept of latchkey children (children who have to stay alone due to the temporal absence of working parents). This is the case of Sally and her older brother.  I experienced such environment since I was in kindergarten and throughout the rest of my teenage life.  I did not know there was a term for it, so I looked it up on several sites online to define it.  I find it even more interesting that they are a single parent family (mom, son, and daughter), and the absence of the paternal figure is not only physically evident, but it is also evident in a more abstract form; the reader NEVER finds out the name of the narrator, the boy.  the social and moral values in the text speak about the importance of rules to avoid chaos in society.  The fish serves as a symbol of a physical conscious to the children in the story as they are allured by Cat’s playful tricks.  The fish constantly reminds Sally and her brother that the Cat is violating the rules of the house.  This story serves to teach children that one should not always trust a stranger.

Performance:  There are 1500 words in total in this text, so it would be challenging memorizing them in chronological order.  As a performer, my strengths would be amplified as Kinestic gestures and facial expresions are important for the interpretation of many sections of the text.  It would be new territory to do a lower level picture book with limited vocabulary words and continual rhyme.

(Excerpt of The Cat in the Hat)

The sun did not shine.

It was too wet to play

So we sat in the house

All that cold, cold day.

I sat there with Sally.

We sat there, we two.

And I said, “How I wish

We had something to do!”

Too wet to go out.

And too cold to play ball.

So we sat in the house.

We did nothing at all.

NowWeAreSixTitle:  Now We Are Six

Author:  A.A. Milne

Allan Alexander Milne’s book, Now We Are Six, counts with a total of thirty-five children’s verse, and it was first published in 1927.  I found this while searching for books to analyze for my prose performance.  My niece and I were browsing the CSU Stan’s juvenile section on the third floor of the library.  She pointed to the cover (newer version in color) and  said, “It’s Winnie-Pooh!”  I read a couple of verses to her, and later that night I stumbled on the poem “Sneezles”.  I was fond of it because it reminds me of when Deborah does not want to go to school (headstart), and stalls our attention by saying she has a cough.  She coughs a little, and explains to me how her teacher said that if you are you can’t come to class so that others don’t get sick.  Of course, I make her laugh, give her a piece of gum, or simply remind her that if she does not go to school, then she cannot spend the night on Friday…she smiles sneakly says, “I’m just kidding:-)”

The lengths of the sentences in the prose are for the most part short and easy to understand.  Every two lines constitute a complete sentence, but the prose is written in a verse format breaking the sentence into two lines.  Syntactically, the sentences are compound sentences having a dependent clause attached at the end.  Because it is in a narrative form, all the implied characters besides Christopher Robin are addressed in third person neutral.  The sentence structure gives me a sense of cause and affect.  For example, the first sentence reads as follows: Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles [,] They bundled him into his bed. Christopher Robin’s state of health causes “them” to put him in bed.  This structure is predominant throughout the rest of the text.  There are really no paragraphs, rather clusters of sentences.  I found it worthwhile to briefly address the construction of the excerpt because it alerts the reader of the complexity of the situation by grouping the greatest amount of sentences at the beginning and ending with a verse of four lines.  It tells me as the reader that the situation starts out complicated but unfolds light-heartedly at the end of the text.  Although the use of semicolons, commas, and periods in this text are important cues for pausing, Sneezles’ allows the reader to almost unconsciously keep a similar length pattern of speech phrases in avoidance of disturbing the flow of the text.  The length of the speech phrases usually ends with the independent clause and begins again with the dependent clause making the latter clause seem to be more or less an independent thought.  But, it is not.  The speech phrases exert in me the need to raise my pitch toward the end of the first line and to lower my pitch at the end of the following line.  Syntactically speaking, pitch would be raise at the end of the independent clause, and lowered at the end of the dependent clause.

Rhyme, is an important element in this text.  Every other line rhymes in a formal pattern using one syllable word that differ phonetically only at the beginning of that specific word.  Another noticeable rhyme found in the Sneezles is in two words rhyming within one line (odd number of lines).  This gives flavor to the text’s cadence allowing the reader to make a short pause or pitch change even if there is not grammatical punctuation to cue the change.  The text’s rate predominately flows in an average pattern of twelve and eight syllable lines.  Though this cadence is not identical throughout the text, I am able to follow the author’s rhyme.  Besides rhyme, Milne successfully applied Tone Color to his text.  If find this element to be the driving force for this particular text.  The author has chosen words whose sounds keep the flow of the text.  I find many examples of assonance with the long “i” sound such as in wheezles, sneezles, measles, freezles, and breezles. Milne uses the combination of “zle” as a consonance touch to his creative words with the purpose of letting his readers perhaps be aware that the words do not exist in an official dictionary.  This is very important for my interpretation of the text.

The point of view of the text is in third person, and it seems to be in a more objective for since the narrator is simply doing a recount of the Christopher Robin’s ill state.  The end of the text briefly implies that the narrator might have partial omniscience because Christopher Robin’s thoughts are interpreted by the narrator (And the look of his eye seemed to say to the sky, ‘Now, how to amuse them today?) This is the first time I had ever read this text, and I had the strongest conviction that the persona (narrator) was Winnie-Pooh, Christopher’s best friend.  Although in third person and in an objective format, the narrator’s voice causes the reader to feel endeared with Christopher Robin and seek to be amused by his innocent games.  The end of the text invites the reader to be part of another adventure that begins in this child’s thoughts.  Though the excerpt is short, the plot is clearly understood.  The beginning of the text starts with the escalating events that occur all within a short interval of time, probably morning to mid day.  It starts with Christopher Robin’s strange symptoms, “wheezles and sneezles”.  Once all common illnesses are invalidated, this incident is placed in the hands of higher authority figures (besides mom and dad one may assume), famous physicians.  The climax of the text is the physicians’ diagnosis, PHTHEEZLES!  (A very strange and almost unbearable disease to the reader’s opinion).  The plot’s resolution is established when the sneezles have vanished away by the next morning.  Then, the author cues the reader that another plot may develop soon.  This is suggested in the very last line of the text also showing that the main character, C. Robin is driving the plot with his humoristic plans to entertain himself.  The entire setting is in Christopher Robin’s bedroom.  Though not description is given of the setting, one can only imagine what a curious six-year-old boy’s room might look like.  I envision toys on the floor, paper planes all over the place in the attempt to make them fly out the window into mother’s garden, and pictures of imaginary friends with magical powers.  The fact that C. Robin was able to make such a commotion, leads me to see the type of character Milne wanted to create with him.  Though the setting was limited by four walls, Christopher’s imagination was not confined to neither what other’s expected nor to where he was.

The author’s decision to create symptoms from “real” words, cued me in that the main character was a creative little fellow.  Wheezles and sneezles are similar to the words wheezing and sneezing, but different.  That is who C. Robin is; he is a normal six-year-old child, but a very different individual because he has an extraordinary imagination that has the ability to not only control his circumstances but to also influence on other people’s actions (parents having to call the physicians).  Again, Milne’s word choice when Robin is finally diagnosed,, led me to believe that this was all part of Robin’s imagination,  The fact that the physicians diagnosed a “worst” creative disease, speaks to the idea of allowing an individual’s imagination to develop as long as no one is hurt.  The exposition and the complication is grouped together in a large paragraph-form at the beginning of the text making the reader believe that the situation is extremely serious.  However, the climax reveals that strange circumstance may birth new ideas, and consequently resolve to a more peaceful state of mind.  The structure of the entire (sentence and paragraph) build’s the reader’s curiosity on how serious wheezles and sneezles can be, and to desire a new word to be introduced.  It is almost a cadence built within the rhythm itself.  One’s imagination is all that is required to created today’s adventure.

Performance:  The greates challenge I phase now is pronouncing the “creative” words without disrupting the flow of the text.  As a performer, I am comfortable enough to commit myself to this young character’s symptoms of being sick in bed, and convince my audience of such condition.  The new territory I would be phasing is taking up a more Brittish accent for the doctor’s voices.

Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles
They bundled him into his bed.
They gave him what goes with cold in the nose,
And some more for cold in the head.
They wondered if wheezles could turn into measles,
If sneezles would turn into mumps;
They examined his chest for a rash, and the rest
Of his body for swelling and lumps.
They sent for some doctors in sneezles and wheezles
To tell them what ought to be done.
All sorts and conditions of famous physicians
Came hurrying round at a run.
They all made a note of state of his throat,
They asked if he suffered from thirst;
They asked if the sneezles came after the wheezles,
Or if the first sneezles came first.
They say “If you teasle a sneezle or wheezle,
A measle may easily grow.
But humour or pleazle the wheezle or sneezle,
The measle will certainly go.”

They expounded the reazles for sneezles and wheezles,
The manner of measles when new.
They said, “If he freezles in draughts and in breezles,
The PHTHEEZLES may even ensue.”

Christopher Robin got up in the morning,
The sneezles had vanished away.
And the look of his eye seemed to say to the sky,
“Now, how to amuse them today?”

spider fly

Title:  The Spider and the Fly

Author:  Mary Howitt

I chose this text in my hunt to talk to my niece about being careful of not talking to strangers.  It spurred after she told me about The Cat in the Hat that went to her school to talk about being careful of not letting strangers into the house and not being alone without an adult.  I found it in the university’s library.  I found a liking to text that give animals an anthropomorphic atribute in a comical way and at the same time teach a moral.

Although this poem was written in 1821, I believe children can benefit from it not only for its richness in sentence structure and vocabulary, but for its richness in literary elements.  Because it is a narrative poem, children can explore elements of a story such as plot, characters, setting, climax, and theme.  In the poetic sense, children will find many examples of  figures of speech.  A challenge may be understanding the irony and paradox of the story itself.

This text has excited me not only because of its anthropomorphic characters, but the variety use of figure of speech.  The rhyme scheme patterns of the line fall in a couplet-like format (aa, bb, cc, dd…).  This cautinary tale is an allegory where Seduction (spider) will almost alway triumph over Naiveness (the fly).  The text has personified the spider’s seduction  and the fly’s naiveness into a conversation that results in the death of one of the two.  There are several examples of consonance.  One of these is the aspirated “P” in the first stanza (Parlour, sPider,Prettiest, sPy).  That aspirated “P” sound reminescence the sound created when one is secretly calling someone (“pssst…”).  It almost evokes a distrusting feeling.  Repetivie phrases are found in many parts of the text such as the title, but one that strikes the reader take note that the conversation with the antagonist of the story (spider) is not safe:  “Oh, no, no” said the little Fly.  Towards the climax of this poetic tale, the spider uses a subtle for of onomatoponeia, “Come hither, hither, pretty Fly..”  The “hither, hither” is almost like the sound of a slithering snake trying to seduce an innocent feminine creature…sounds familiar?  It is obvious!  It brings to mind a universal symbol of the seduction that occured in the Garden of Eden.  The snake, and anthropomorphic image of Lucifer, seduces the innocen beau Eve causing “spiritual death” (separation between man and God).  The text has a winding  web-like flow, again making reference to the theme of seduction, the spider, and the danger of getting caught in “sweet words” that have  threacherous intentions.

There are several cultural references in this story.  I had the feeling that the author was talking about political power through the characters she chose.  The spider had a masculine tone (empowering, authoritative, and firm)as if he was alluring the fly (a more feminine voice, sensitive and fragile).  I decided to look up what major events were happening around the world of Mary Howitt during the time she wrote the poem.  I found out that there were several political crisis: The Greek Revolution (March 25, 1821 marks the beginning of the Greeks’ revolution for independance against the Ottoman’s Empire), Mexico’s Independance War of 1821 (against Spain), and a whole other series of events that demonstrate people’s efforts againts injustice and overpowering groups. A more obvious spiritual reference is the battle between good and evil along with the battle between life and death.

Performance:  Greatest challenge is evoking the seriousness and yet seductive wittiness of the character of the spider.  This text amplifies my strength as a performer to be able to grasp the audience attention with the use of space, the use of voice, and effective props choices.  The new territory it will usher me into is the length of the text along with a couple of vocabulary words that give me a hard time when pronouncing and avoiding to disrupt the flow of the rhytmic pattern.

Will you walk into my parlour? said the spider to the fly.
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy,
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.
Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair, can ne’er come down again.

I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high
Will you rest upon my little bed? said the Spider to the Fly.
There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!
Oh no, no, said the little Fly, for I’ve often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I ‘ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice
I’m sure you’re very welcome, will you please to take a slice?
Oh no, no, said the little Fly, Kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!

Sweet creature! said the Spider, you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.
I thank you, gentle sir, she said, for what you ‘re pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing,
Your robes are green and purple, there’s a crest upon your head
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!
Alas, alas! How very soon this silly little Fly,

Alas, alas! How very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue
Thinking only of her crested head, poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour, but she ne’er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed.
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

colors of earth

Title:  All the Colors of the Earth

Author:  Sheila Hamanaka

I found this poem in one of my old notebooks from several years ago.  It reminds me of the religious children’s song taught in my Sunday school class when I was about ten years old: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.  Red, yellow, black, brown, white; they are prescious in His sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

This poem is appropriate for third grade and even earlier grade levels.  This is a multicultural genre of literature that demonstrates figures of speech such as onomatopoeia, metaphors, personification, and similes.  This 17 line poem may pose difficulty in understanding how the figurative speech develops in the verse.

The theme of the poem is based on ethnic diversity, and the social value of equality regardless of race, color, and appearance.  This is a very much westernized outlook on diversity, and it is also a naturalistic view of life where nature (Mother Earth) nurtures an array of beautiful seeds (children).

Performance:  My challenge may be delivering the author’s universal concept of unity between nature and humanity.  As a strong kinesthetic performer, the wide choice of movement, spatial arrangement, and the use of large-scale props will facilitate in conveying the theme of diversity.  The new territory embarking if I were to perform this text is the use of many figure of speech such as onomatopoeia and others.

Children come in all colors of the earth—
The roaring browns of bears and soaring eagles,
The whispering golds of late summer grasses,
And crackling russets of fallen leaves,
The tinkling pinks of tiny seashells by the rumbling sea.
Children come with hair like bouncy bay lambs,
Or hair that flows like water,
Or hair that curls like sleeping cats in snoozy cat colors.
Children come in all the colors of love,
In endless shades for you and me.
For love comes in cinnamon, walnut, and wheat,
Love is amber and ivory and ginger an sweet
Like caramel, and chocolate, and the honey of bees.
Dark as leopard spots, light as sand.
Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land,
With sunlight like butterflies happy and free,
Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea.

parameciumTitle:  A Microscopic Topic

Author:  Jack Prelutsky

I found poem in the book “The New Kid on the Block” in our juvenile section in our campus library.  There is no connection in particular for choosing this poem, but the fact that I like science and odd things.

Students reading this short poem will entertain their minds with literary elements such as rhyme, anthropomorphism, and assonance.  I do not see any challenges posing a third grader since this poem may very well be suitable for a second grade level reader.

The very first element one sees in this short verse is that the paramecium is given human attributes such as being able to address the reader and expressing its frustration at not succeeding in multiplying.  The paramecium’s frustration is a metonymy (a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated; also, the rhetorical strategy of describing something indirectly by referring to things around it) because a paramecium multiplies only through binary fusion which is a cell division process!  This was interesting and a good choice of word from the keen author.  The use of the long vowel sound “I” demonstrates assonance, especially in the fourth line (“If I’d an eye, I’d surely cry).  This evokes the sense of “oneness” or singularity of the persona of the poem and of the actual real life paramecium.  It is almost evoking a solitary cry longing to multiply who it is without having to separate itself. The consonance of the poem using the “S” sound resembles a soft slithering sound allowing the reader to enjoy the imagery of the paramecium in this verse.  The “S” sound is flavored starting from the topic (A MicroScopic Topic), and other words within the text such as “parameCium”, “Simple Sum”, and “Subtract”.  The text is a couplet with a rhyming patter of AABB.

The social value I perceive from this is that interpersonal relationships are important, and that singleness is frowned upon.  I had to do some research regarding the reproduction of parameciums, which influenced in how I interpreted this text.

Performance:  The challenge of this text is that because it is so short, small performance choices might be overlooked by audience.  My experience with spatial arrangement might lead me arrange the audience in a circular yet solitary environment to support the theme of my interpretation.

I am a paramecium

that cannot do a simple sum,

and it’s rather well-known fact

I’m quite unable to subtract.

If I’d an eyen, I’d surely cry

about the way I multiply,

for though I’ve often tried and tried,

I do it backward…and divide.


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