ADULT POETRY VERSUS CHILDRENS POETRY
My first memories of poetry were from A Child’s Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson, the same author who wrote the beloved classic Treasure Island
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, and the Winnie the Pooh stories. These beloved verses and the illustrations of E.H. Shepard were to see me through my childhood filling my mind and fertilizing my imagination as they did for so many children.
Yet where did that love of poetry go for so many people?
I think it is in the way poetry is taught in today’s world. For instance, on my first day of Honors English class in college as the professor was giving us the curriculum for the semester. listed what we would cover in the order in which we would cover it. The very last on the list was poetry, with a shrug she said “I’m not really comfortable with poetry, so am leaving it for last. I hope there isn't time.” I heard much the same, when I joined the editorial board of the college Journal of the Arts. The poetry picked for the journal by and large was full of abstract thought. It was as if the general consensus about poetry is if it’s abstract and difficult to figure out the meaning behind the words than it must be good. No wonder so many say they don’t understand poetry or don’t like poetry, when English professors admit they don’t understand it. "Life doesn't frighten me." Maya Angelou
It is a shame that poetry has such a bad rap, (no pun intended) as poetry weaves through our entire lives, even if we don’t know it. You hear it in the lyrics of the music. It is in our greeting cards on coffee mugs, in commercials, you name it and you will find poetry. Yet many parents shy away from either reading it to their children or picking it up and reading it to themselves.
What is the meaning of poetry to me you might ask? Poetry and verse are short stories telling the tale lying in the heart and mind of the author. It doesn't matter if it is adult or children’s poetry, I don’t want to have to study the poem to understand the concept behind the verse. This doesn't mean that if it is complex and difficult to figure out its , Maya Angelou, any more than a piece of abstract or minimalism art is bad art. It only means it isn't a preference of mine. I prefer my poetry to speak to me. I want it to carry me into the emotions and thoughts of the poet.
If I am reading or writing poetry aimed at children, I prefer it speaks to a child in their language and doesn't talk down to them. I like it to help me remember those feelings I had as a child thus connecting me both with the child within and with children in general. The same goes with adult poetry I want to feel something to see a picture and experience the mind and emotion of the author.
As I see it the main difference between the children’s and adults’ poetry is children think more literally. They feel the same emotions but don’t always understand where they are coming from. They are still learning and their vocabulary is growing. They see the world with more innocence and wonder. An adult on the other hand has seen more of life which usually means they will have a larger vocabulary and understand their emotions more or the subtle nuances and complexity of a poem.
Poets, who have stood the test of time and are considered great poets, tell a story in their poetry. Between children and adults the stories differ, but still there is a story and the use of imagination and/or emotion.
If you read the work of a contemporary poet like Maya Angelou, who is universally acclaimed one of the finest poets of our generation she tells a story in her poetry. It is full of beauty, sorrow, imagination, and hope. One of my favorites is her Phenomenal Woman you can find the link to the rest of the poem below as well as a youtube video of the reading.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNj9cpvj-pU Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
You can also find that same lyrical, storytelling style in the poetry of any of the classic poets. For example look at Edgar Allan Poe’s, A Dream Within A Dream, below is the link to the whole poem and a short example of the poem itself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxg7OFFtWQE&feature=related Edgar Allan Poe, A Dream Within A Dream.
A Dream Within A Dream
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
Some classic poetry rhymes, all of it is lyrical. Most children’s poetry rhymes because children remember rhymes more easily making it simpler for them to learn. They enjoy the rhyming and it helps spark their imaginations.
Many articles have been written on how rhyming helps children learn and why the classics are a great way to both entertain and teach children. You can read it in many articles, one of them is classic poems for kids. http://www.squidoo.com/classic-poems-for-kids It shows the simplicity that inspires children’s poetry.
This simplicity is shown so well in, William Makepeace Thackeray’s,
At The Zoo .
First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black;
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;
Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;
Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;
Then I saw the elephant a-waving of his trunk;
Then I saw the monkeys-mercy, how unpleasantly they-smelt!
Or in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems The Cow and The Land of Counterpane, which describes so intensely just how a child’s imagination works.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MouuBLfHBBc Robert Louis Stevenson, The Land of Counterpane
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0K-umvbKgY The Cow by Robert Louis Stevenson
The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart….
The Land of Counterpane
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bedclothes, through the hills….
In Wee Three: A Child’s World, you find a similar rhyming quality that helps a child stretch their imagination and will speak to them in the language of youth. This language is full of imaginative, innocent, and literal ways children look at the world. There are many children’s poets but the ones that seem to stand the test of time all write as though they were looking at the world through the eyes of a child.
In my book A Poet’s Journey: Emotions, my style is more like the poets of the past and present who tell a story in their verse and less abstract. It tells of the emotional roller-coaster that life can be.
If you read either children’s or adults poetry I believe you will agree the main difference between poetry written for a child and that for an adult is in the sophistication of the poem and the type of story it tells. At least this is true of most of the classic poets.
The elite of the horse world are the high-dollar mares. They are show animals or racing animals, bringing high dollars for their foals because they have a history of excellence and winning. For them, time is money and it's important that the mare be kept busy birthing instead of spending weeks nursing her offspring. That job is given to a nurse mare.
Much like the old-time wet nurse employed by wealthy mothers throughout history, the nurse mare is of uncertain or unimportant bloodlines and incapable of bringing substantial income to her owner. In order to nurse the important foal, she must have recently given birth and produce the necessary milk. The question is: What becomes of the nurse mare's foal?
By many called a “junk foal,” this unfortunate newborn is considered a necessary
evil, a disposable byproduct. The cost of trying to nurse this foal until it is
weaned is high, so often the“junk foal” is killed outright and disposed of.
Sometimes it's shipped off to auction and bought by manufacturers who use its
hide to make expensive bags or shoes. Whatever its fate, the nurse mare's foal
is considered an unimportant nuisance.
The nurse mare’s foal is usually taken from its mother anytime from one day to a
week after birth instead of the ten to twelve weeks that foals commonly nurse.
The times vary, depending on when the high-dollar mare foals. Generally the
nurse mare is shipped off to the farm to nurture and foster the high-priced foal.
The horse industry benefits from this barbaric practice because the high-dollar mare gets back in shape more quickly, so she can show well and invite more offers for her offspring. While some stables allow the mare three to four weeks to
recuperate after giving birth, many are sent to the stallion for rebreeding
within seven to ten days of giving birth.
There are Equine Rescue Leagues that have spent their time, energy, and money to help the rejected foals. Without them, more of these small lives would be lost. Most of the rescuers are knowledgeable, but there are a few well-intentioned people who want to save the newborns without any knowledge of horses. In some cases these organizations succeed almost by accident, and in others they make matters worse for the animals in their care. Unfortunately these groups sometimes rely on unscrupulous people, self-proclaimed experts who have their own hidden
The lucky foal is adopted by people who know and love horses or who go out of their way to learn the needs and care of this fragile baby animal. Too many are
adopted by men and women who know little or nothing about horses, let alone the
unique care these foals require, and the new owners soon become overwhelmed. As a result, some foals are bought and sold several times before they reach
maturity. Others die from lack of proper nutrition and proper parasite control.
The nurse mare's foal unfortunate enough to fall into the wrong hands usually
grows up with multiple deformities and bone development problems. Some have
social development issues, never learning how to be a horse or understanding the
role of a horse with a human companion.
This book is the story of one nurse mare's foal and its fight for survival.
Marta Moran Bishop and Toni Boyle
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Whether I am reading, or writing I am taken out of myself and will return more enlightened. From the magic of the places I have been, the people I have met, and the story that captured me for a while.