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Authors: The Nightingale-Bamford School

Poems for Life

BOOK: Poems for Life
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Poems

for
Life

Poems

for
Life

A Special Collection of Poetry

Selected by:

E. L. Doctorow • Allen Ginsberg • David Mamet

Tom Wolfe • Joyce Carol Oates • Stephen Sondheim

Kurt Vonnegut • Elie Wiesel • And many more

Introduction by Anna Quindlen

Arcade Publishing • New York

Copyright © 1995, 2011 by The Nightingale-Bamford School

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Arcade Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018.

Arcade Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Arcade Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 or
[email protected]

Arcade Publishing® is a registered trademark of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.®, a Delaware corporation.

Visit our website at
www.arcadepub.com
.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Designed by Jeff Ward

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available on file.

ISBN: 978-1-61145-350-8

Printed in China

Contents

Teachers' Note

Introduction: “Poetry Emotion” by Anna Quindlen

Contributors (in alphabetical order) and their selections:

J
ANE
A
LEXANDER
“In Black Earth, Wisconsin” by Andrea Musher

B
ROOKE
A
STOR
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

K
EN
A
ULEITA
“Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

H
AROLYN
M. B
LACKWELL
“To Be Somebody” by Langston Hughes

M
ARTIN
C
HARNIN
“Laughing Down Lonely Canyons” by James Cavenaugh

M
ARIO
C
UOMO
“Outwitted” by Edwin Markham

D
AVID
D
INKINS
“Stars” by Langston Hughes

E. L. D
OCTOROW
“A Blessing” by James Wright

G
ERALDINE
F
ERRARO
“If” by Rudyard Kipling

A
LLEN
G
INSBERG
“Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

R
UDOLPH
G
IULIANI
“If I can stop one Heart from breaking” by Emily Dickinson

R
ICHARD
F. G
REIN
Excerpt from “Four Quartets” by T. S. Eliot

D
AVID
H
ALBERSTAM
Excerpt from “The Passing of Arthur” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

S
HELDON
H
ARNICK
“When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer” by Walt Whitman

B
ILL
I
RWIN
“The Yachts” by William Carlos Williams

P
ETER
J
ENNINGS
“Man with Wooden Leg Escapes Prison” by James Tate

E
DWARD
I. K
OCH
“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

K
ENNETH
K
OCH
“The Dawn of Me” by Jeff Morley

J
ILL
K
REMENTZ
“The Low Road” by Marge Piercy

A
NGELA
L
ANSBURY
“Cuttin' Rushes” by Moira O'Neill

Y
O
-Y
O
E. M
A
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats

D
AVID
M
AMET
“The Dog” by David Mamet

J
ASON
M
C
M
ANUS
“I never saw a Moor” by Emily Dickinson

J
OAN
S. M
C
M
ENAMIN
“Life Is Mostly” by A. L. Gordon and “He That Loveth” by Thomas a Kempis

V
ED
M
EHTA
“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold

I
SMAIL
M
ERCHANT
“Song” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

R
UTH
W. M
ESSINGER
“The Gift Outright” by Robert Frost

S
USAN
M
INOT
“When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be” by John Keats

J
OYCE
C
AROL
O
ATES
“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant” by Emily Dickinson

R
ON
P
ADGETT
“A Step Away from Them” by Frank O'Hara

H
AROLD
P
RINCE
“Credo” by Thomas Wolfe

A
NNA
Q
UINDLEN
“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by W. B. Yeats

D
AVID
R
EAD
“Holy Sonnet XIV” (“Batter my heart, three-personed God”) by John Donne

R
ICHARD
W. R
ILEY
“Duty Was Joy” by Rabindranath Tagore

I
SABELLA
R
OSSELLINI
“Get Yourself Drunk” by Charles Baudelaire

G
ENE
S
AKS
“Does It Matter?” by Siegfried Sassoon

D
IANE
S
AWYER
“If” by Rudyard Kipling

W
HITNEY
N
ORTH
S
EYMOUR
J
R
. Excerpt from “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood” by William Cullen Bryant

A
LLY
S
HEEDY
“On Stripping Bark from Myself” by Alice Walker

B
EVERLY
S
ILLS
“It Is Not the Critic Who Counts” by Theodore Roosevelt

M
ARGARET
C
HASE
S
MITH
“My Creed” by Margaret Chase Smith

R
ONALD
B. S
OBEL
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

S
TEPHEN
S
ONDHEIM
“Come to the Edge” by Christopher Logue

L
IV
U
LLMANN
“Meditation #17” (“No Man is an Island”) by John Donne

K
URT
V
ONNEGUT
“The Angel that presided o'er my birth” by William Blake

W
ENDY
W
ASSERSTEIN
Excerpt from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

P
AUL
W
ATKINS
“Clouds” by Rupert Brooke

E
LIE
W
IESEL
“From Tomorrow On, I Shall Be Sad” by Motele

E
LIZABETH
W
INTHROP
“Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

T
OM
W
OLFE
Excerpt from “I've Been to a Marvelous Party” by Noel Coward

Grade V Students

Contributors

Acknowledgments

Teachers' Note

The inspiration behind this project, which was begun in 1992, was an Irish poetry anthology called
Lifelines. Lifelines
consists of a collection of letters and poems sent in by well-known figures in Ireland at the request of a group of Dublin students. These students found a publisher for the book, which they dedicated to the “children of the Third World,” then donated all their royalties to organizations that might assist these children.

Our thought was to do something in the same spirit and to the same purpose. At Nightingale-Bamford, poetry is an integral part of the fifth-grade curriculum. In addition to writing their own poems, the students read and memorize a variety of poetry during the year, culminating in a recitation for their parents. Moreover, when students enter the middle school, they become involved in class projects dealing with social service. It therefore seemed very fitting to combine the fifth-grade social-service project with part of their English curriculum. We wanted the students not only to be awakened to a world of poetry through other people's choices, but to become aware of a world of need outside their immediate communities, one to which they could in some way contribute. We decided the proceeds of our project should benefit the International Rescue Committee, and more specifically the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children (a division of the IRC). The students were already familiar with this particular organization because Mary Anne Schwalbe, staff director, had come to the school and talked about her experiences with refugee women and children on several occasions.

For two years, the students wrote to well-known people in all fields. Every day, they awaited the mail with eager anticipation. When a reply arrived it was greeted with curiosity and excitement. Each letter and accompanying poem was read in class, and the poem and poet discussed. We greatly enjoyed finding out why people had selected a particular work, and we learned from what they had to say about it. What most struck all of us was how important poetry had been in the lives of the contributors, who had turned and returned to poems for amusement, solace, wisdom, and, perhaps most importantly, to find some part of themselves.

We are extremely grateful to all those who took the time to send in their thoughts and poems. We would also like to thank Timothy Bent, our editor at Arcade, who had such faith in the project; Mary Anne Schwalbe of the International Rescue Committee; The Nightingale-Bamford School teachers and administrators; and, most of all, the students of Class V from 1993 and 1994, whose names appear at the end of the volume.

Faith O'Grady

Mary Allen

Introduction

“Poetry Emotion”

by Anna Quindlen

Yusef Komunyakaa won the Pulitzer Prize, but he does not expect to become a household name, and not because his name itself, phonetically simple once parsed out bit by bit, looks at first glance so unpronounceable. Mr. Komunyakaa won the prize for poetry in a world that thinks of Pound and Whitman as a weight and a sampler, not an Ezra, a Walt, a thing of beauty, a joy forever.

It's hard to figure out why this should be true, why poetry has been shunted onto a siding at a time, a place, so in need of brevity and truth. We still use the word as a synonym for a kind of lovely perfection, for an inspired figure skater, an accomplished ballet dancer. Many of the finest books children read when young are poetry:
The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon
, the free verse of
Where the Wild Things Are
.

And then suddenly, just as their faces lose the soft curves of babyhood, the children harden into prose and leave verse behind, or reject it entirely. Their summer reading lists rarely include poetry, only stories, “The Red Badge of Courage,” not Mr. Komunyakaa's spare and evocative poems about his hitch in Vietnam:

He danced with tall grass

for a moment, like he was swaying

with a woman. Our gun barrels

glowed white-hot.

When I got to him,

a blue halo

of flies had already claimed him.

BOOK: Poems for Life
7.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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