Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Today Could Have Been a Celebration....

We've been reading and studying poetry the last couple of weeks, a nice repreive from all of the essay-writing we tackled during the fall. It's such a nice change of pace as we peer into the words of poets past looking for examples of alliteration, personification, and imagery... the magic pixie dust of writing.

This week, as we read about Sidney Lanier, we realized that this is his birthday week, and that today, February 3, is his birthday. Oh how I wish I had thought ahead and bought a birthday cake in honor of this amazing poet. How fun it would have been to bring party hats to school and let my students partake in the festivities. But, I thought too late and wasn't too sure I would be willing to pay for a sheet-cake big enough for 93 hungry eighth-graders. And they wouldn't want me to bake one myself.

But it was a good idea. Maybe next year?

In the meantime, here's a favorite of mine...

The Song of the Chattahoochee
Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover's pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried `Abide, abide,'
The willful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said `Stay,'
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed `Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.'

High o'er the hills of Habersham,
Veiling the valleys of Hall,
The hickory told me manifold
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold,
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine,
Overleaning, with flickering meaning and sign,
Said, `Pass not, so cold, these manifold
Deep shades of the hills of Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall.'

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl,
And many a luminous jewel lone --
Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet and amethyst --
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.

But oh, not the hills of Habersham,
And oh, not the valleys of Hall
Avail: I am fain for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call --
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main,
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main from beyond the plain
Calls o'er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall.

~ Sidney Lanier 1877

P.S. Happy Birthday!
Photo: Sierra Club


Mommy2Twinkies-Deb said...

I had NO idea!!! WE are on Lake Lanier all the time!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! What a beautiful poem. I wish that I had you as a teacher--although, I did have some pretty awesome English teachers growing up... Oh, then I wish you could be my kids' teacher! :-) Awesome. Thanks for the info. I will share it.

McMGrad89 said...

Haven't heard that in forever. Probably high school. On March 2, you can celebrate the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, the greatest poet/writer ever!!! :-) We made the cutest hats when we were allowed to have goodies. We used two large marshmallows, a nilla wafer, and a fruit roll up that I cut in half lengthwise (that was the hard part.) We used frosting to glue everything together and to frost the outside of the marshmallow and cookie. They were so cute.

Candace said...

I'm glad I'm not the only teacher who gets great ideas too late! Maybe next year you can have the kids make cakes or cupcakes to bring? That way you won't have to pay for it or bake your own. :)

LOVE the poem. Your posts lately are so making me miss teaching. I'm getting so excited about going back in a few years!

By the way, thanks for telling me about Tracy Chevalier's latest book. I did not know it had come out yet and now I'm so excited to go get it! My birthday is this Saturday and we are going to the circus. I might just have to make Matt stop on the way home (we go right past B&N) and buy it for me!

MrsPeel said...

We didn't do much poetry studying in my times, well, certainly not English, but we did a lot of English literature, that's how I fell in love with the great writers...don't know why, but I'm not all, that into poetry,like a lot more prose, but this is beautiful :)

Hope you guys are well,huggzzzz

miruspeg said...

"The magic pixie dust of writing."
Those words say it all Roban.

Another lovely post from a dedicated thoughful teacher and a beautiful soul. When I was at school in 3rd grade I had a teacher that inspired me like you inspire these students. To this day I still remember her beautiful smile and loving nature.

Keep shining, you are making such a difference to so many.

Peggy xxx

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful poem.