Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm feeling critical today: (Sunday's Poem 14)

by Laurence Alma-Tadema

In summer I am very glad
We children are so small,
For we can see a thousand things
That men can't see at all.

They don't know much about the moss
And all the stones they pass:
They never lie and play among
The forests in the grass:

They walk about a long way off;
And, when we're at the sea,
Let father stoop as best he can
He can't find things like me.

But, when the snow is on the ground
And all the puddles freeze,
I wish that I were very tall,
High up above the trees.

I've been reading Shel Silverstein's "Where The Sidewalk Ends" to Mr F, three poems a night, usually, and I've come to a conclusion.

Shel Silverstein is overrated.

I had these memories of "
Where The Sidewalk Ends" and knew that everyone loved it and remembered the good poems that everyone remembers, but when you read that whole book, beginning to end, you come up with this: A lot of the poems are junk. They don't have rhythm, they're not very clever, they just... aren't very good.

Maybe it's that writing poems for kids, or in a kid's voice, is difficult for adults. Take today's poem. I like 75% of it, but then the last stanza wrecks it, if you ask me. It's such an abrupt change of mood and perspective. The first 12 lines are how great it is to be little and see things that adults don't -- and then suddenly the kid is wistful and wanting more, and then it ends abruptly? It would be a better poem if it had simply continued the theme the first 3/4 did -- or if, having switched moods, the poet had gone and developed the second mood and then tied it all together.

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