Saturday, July 23, 2011

Poems, Books, etc.

Our co-op moms had a meeting last week, and I realized that, despite my hopes, the summer will not last forever.  Co-op starts up again mid-August (which seems so wrong, but we like to be done mid-May), and I haven't (or, hadn't on Monday!) done much planning for the classes I will lead. So I made a list of the Things I Need to Do, and started with the least strenuous.  Choosing the poetry for the kids to memorize.  This is actually a fun job, and I'd have done it weeks ago except that I completely forgot about it.  Our history this year will cover the 19th century, which is just about as rich a period for poetry as you could ask for.  And I'm including some poems about 19th century figures from A Book of Americans, by Rosemary an Stephen Vincent Benet.  These are such fun (and Educational!) that I'm going to include three of them here...

       Zachary Taylor  (1784-1850)
                                               Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet

Zachary Taylor was gallant and gruff,
A general rugged and heady,
He fought like a trump in the Mexican war
And his troops called him “Old Rough and Ready.”
For he didn’t much mind if their buttons weren’t shined
As long as no man was a quailer
And the Mexicans  found that their best bit the ground
When faced by old Zachary Taylor.

Zachary Taylor was President T.
One very warm day in July,
When he called for a bowl of ripe cherries and milk,
With a greedy old gleam in his eye,
Now cherries and milk, when the weather is hot,
Make even the strongest turn paler
--And they proved more effective than Mexican shot
For they finished poor Zachary Taylor.

                         David Glassgow Farragut (1801-1870)
                             by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet

“Damn the torpedoes!”
Bold Farragut said,
“Damn the torpedoes!
Full speed ahead!”

And, lashed to his rigging
With never a squeal,
He led his fleet into
The Bay of Mobile.

The Southern forts thundered
With vigor and vim
But grapeshot and canister
Never touched him.

The waters were mined
With a death-dealing load,
But Farragut simply
Refused to explode.
And fought till the Southerners
Gave up the fray.
(He’d captured New Orleans
In much the same way.)

So remember, if ever
You face such a plight,
There’s a pretty good chance,
“Straight ahead!” will be right.

And while “damn,” as you know,
Is a word to eschew –
He knew when to say it –
So few people do.

                        Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright
                                 by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet
Said Orville Wright to Wilbur Wright,
These birds are very trying.
I’m sick of hearing them cheep-cheep
About the fun of flying.
A bird has feathers, it is true.
That much I freely grant.
But, must that stop us, W?”
Said Wilbur Wright, “It shan’t.”

And so they built a glider, first,
And then they built another.
--There never were two brothers more
Devoted to each other.
They ran a dusty little shop
For bicycle-repairing,
And bought each other soda-pop
And praised each other’s daring.

They glided here, they glided there,
They sometimes skinned their noses,
--For learning how to rule the air
Was not a bed of roses—
But each would murmur, afterward,
While patching up his bro.
“Are we discouraged, W?”
“Of course we are not, O!”

And finally, at Kitty Hawk
In Nineteen-Three (let’s cheer it!),
The first real airplane really flew
With Orville there to steer it!
--And kingdoms may forget their kings
And dogs forget their bites,
But, not till Man forgets his wings,
Will men forget the Wrights.

I also have "Pied Beauty," ""The Battle-Hymn of the Republic,""Ozymandias," "If--," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "I Meant to Do My Work Today," "The Daffodils," "How Do I Love Thee?" "All Things Bright and Beautiful," "Jabberwocky," "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," "Invictus," "On a Portrait of Wordsworth by B.R. Haydon," "Oh Captain! My Captain!" "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer," and "There Was a Little Girl" (who had a little curl!).  I still want a Robert Frost, a R.L. Stevenson, an Emily Dickinson, a Christina Rossetti, a (short) Robert Browning, and maybe a snippet of Coleridge.  A project for this afternoon!

Katie's first book for book discussion is The Wizard of Oz, and since she's been busily reading the Betsy-Tacy series, I thought it would be nice to get her the Wizard as an audio book (from Librivox).  She thought it Was nice, and liked it so well that she went on to listen to the Marvelous Land of Oz and now (out of order) Ozma of Oz.  Thursday night, we even watched The Wizard of Oz, which she'd never seen before (I guess we watched it once when Travis was smaller, as he remembered it).  She liked the movie okay, but says it isn't as good as the book.  Travis liked it too, but wondered what happened to Toto after they returned to Kansas, as the situation with Miss Gulch can hardly be said to have been resolved by the trip to Oz.  He is so my kid!

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