Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When anthologies are good, they are very, very good; but when they are bad, they are stodgy.

My friend is home schooling her 9th grader and a younger son. The anthology they have comes from a publisher which emphasizes quality and Good Character. Their editor must think that fun and good character are incompatible. No Ogden Nash. No JRR Tolkien. Probably Kipling's "If" but definitely not any of the Barrack Room Ballads.

So we're going to have kitchen table poetry again this week, with this family and (we hope) another family. We are going to play with words! Lots of Tolkien--"Errantry", The March of the Ents, the Dwarves' cleanup song (Chip the glasses and crack the plates!). Also "Sir Patrick Spens", Eve Merriam's "Weather," "Ozymandias" and an abysmal sonnet on the same topic written by a friend of Shelley's whose name has mercifully fallen into the dust "In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone." Then Nash's delighful sendup, "The Collector":

I met a traveler from an antique show,
His pockets empty but his eyes aglow.
Upon his back, and now his very own
He bore two vast and trunkless legs of stone.
Amid the barrage of collector's jargon,
I gathered he had found himself a bargain,
A conversation piece post-prandial,
Certified Gen-u-ine Early Ozymandial.
And when I asked him how he could be sure,
He showed me PB Shelley's signature.

Mrs James

No comments: