Somehow, when I hear a poem read out loud by the poet, or even by a very very good reader, I find the poem takes on a new aspect. It makes more sense, and in some ways, makes different sense, than it did when I had only seen it. I find the same is true when I read poems out loud myself.
When we think about children learning poetry, do we take this into account? Do we encourage children to hear the sounds of the poem, to think about how the simpleness of a comma's pause can have such great effect on what a line of poetry means?
Here's a bit of poetry I ran across tonight, that seems worth reading and listening to.
by John Updike
A gull, up close,
looks surprisingly stuffed.
His fluffy chest seems filled
with an inexpensive taxidermist's material
rather lumpily inserted. The legs,
unbent, are childish crayon strokes—
too simple to be workable.
And even the feather markings,
whose intricate symmetry is the usual glory of birds,
are in the gull slovenly,
as if God makes too many
to make them very well.
Click here to read the rest of the poem, or here to access the audio recording of Updike reading it himself.
By the way, if you missed my post last week (because I forgot to tell anyone I posted!), go here to listen to Gwendolyn Brooks read and comment on "We Real Cool." Her discussion of the poem is wonderful and interesting, and her reading made it a completely different poem for me.