I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately writing and speaking about children’s poetry and the challenges of getting poetry in front of chidlren, especially in Australia where very little chidlden’s poetry is published. One of the things I keep saying is that kids need accessible poetry, and that we must be sure to include contemporary poetry in our offerings.
BUT, that doesn’t mean that I think we should only offer contemporary poetry, just as it isn’t necessary to only offer contemporary fiction. It’s just that when we offer classic poetry, we need to be sure that it is accessible to readers. One of the problems is that too often we offer poetry with difficult language and then too quickly ask what the poem means. My strong feeling is that, modern or classic, our first point of discussion for any poem should be about how it makes the reader feel, rather than about what it means. The pleasure, the physical response, the emotions aroused, the confusion are all so much for important than knowing exactly what it’s about (and a good poem should not be about just one thing anyway).
So ,take for example this old favourite of mine:
by William Blake