Monday, April 22, 2013

On the teaching of poetry (Parents' Review Volume 2)

"Books," in The Parents' Review, Volume 2, 1891/92, pg. 151.  "A Third Poetry Book." Compiled by Miss M.A. Woods, Head Mistress of the Clifton High School for Girls. (Macmillan and Co.) "Our first feeling in turning over the pages of these [three] "Poetry Books" is--envy! What delightful wanderings over the wide fields of English poetry do they represent! "

"Nowadays the schools do their best to give a taste for good literature, and we have no longer to complain of the dry extracts "from the best authors," which were all we had to nourish us in former days. Now when books like Miss [Mary A.] Woods' poetry books are to be found in our schools, there is nothing better to ask—and the only fault is, that the child has not been trained at home to enjoy the feast which is put before him, and is apt to consider it only another branch of school work, and never to give himself the trouble of trying to enjoy it. If he knew a number of the selections before he met them at school, the meeting would be a joyful recognition of old acquaintances—he would remember how his father or mother had repeated those verses to him, he would recall and try to imitate the emphasis they had used and the cadence of their voices." ~~ "The Teaching of Poetry to Children," by Mrs. J. G. Simpson, The Parents' Review, Volume 12, 1901, pgs. 879-883

And if you like the book, get the author to write you an article..."On the Teaching of Poetry," by Mary A. Woods, Head Mistress of the Clifton High School. The Parents' Review, Volume 2, 1891/92, pgs. 111-116.  "In this same play of 'As You Like It,' Touchstone says to Audrey, 'I would the gods had made thee poetical!' Ah! It is not 'the gods,' it is not Nature, that has refused to make our children poetical. It is we who, with our petty maxims and theories, to say nothing of our prosaic lives and worldly ideals, have done what in us lies to destroy the poetry that was born with them....[we] reduce all to the dull level of prose. "  Don't miss the rest.

Sir John Gielgud can have the last word (sorry the audio is out of synch):

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