Well we’ve made it though the month with daily poetry exercises that I hope will take some of the intimidation factor out of playing with poetry. For this last day, I’d like to share another poem modeling exercise that never fails to surprise me when I use it with a class. Take a moment to go read this poem IF by Rudyard Kipling. In the classroom we dissect this poem line by line and we don’t go on to the next line until we’ve talked through the one before. I have the kids tell me what they think Kipling meant and then I have them talk about it as it compares to their lives.
Then I ask them to write their own poem modeled on this one.
Here’s my try at one.
If you can learn that your value comes from being yourself,
not who the rest of the world thinks you should be
If you can recognize that no one person
sits in judgement of you
If you can lean into the understanding that difficult people too,
carry their burdens
If you can not cause pain to yourself, to others
If you can freely share your knowledge
knowing it will just increase your wealth
and manage your wealth so that the
seeking of it doesn’t manage you
If you can let go of hate and anger and fear
and all the useless emotions that hold you back
while at the same time filling yourself
and the world with love and laughter and compassion
If you can encourage dream following in everyone you meet
while nurturing dreams of your own
If you can let yourself believe
There is nothing you cannot do.
–Susan Taylor Brown