Poetry analysis: “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

At TAMS and Ed Homeschool, we believe that every child should learn about the song, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”  After all, poet James Weldon Johnson wrote Lift Every Voice and Sing in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It was performed for the first time  by 500 children in Jacksonville, Florida on February 12, 1900. 
In this blog, I have written two lessons, one for younger elementary students and one that can expand to include middle and high school as well. Students identify the parts of speech that Weldon uses to determine his intent and meaning of the poem. I also include simple terms such as free verse, hymn, and tone. 
Life voice
Weldon’s brother, John, set it to music and, shortly thereafter, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), adopted it as its official song. Today it is known as the Black National Anthem and is heralded as one of  the most cherished songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement.
Here are a few definitions that will help you better understand this poem:
  • free verse:  poetry that is free from specific patterns in meter or rhyme. The beauty of free verse is that although it does not follow specific patterns, it still allows the poet freedom to use whatever poetic devices are necessary to create the feeling that the poet wants to convey.  Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing is considered free verse because it does not follow a regular meter pattern.
  • hymn: a song or ode in praise or honor of God, a deity, a nation.
  • iamb a type of poetic “foot” made up of an unstressed and stressed syllable. Think of the way that you tap your feet to the beat of your favorite song.
  • iambic pentameter describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in a line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called “feet.” The word “iambic” describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word “pentameter” indicates that a line has five of these “feet”.
  • imagery a poetic device used for language and description that appeals to our five senses including smell, sight, tough, taste, and sound.
  • meter is a stressed and unstressed syllabic pattern in a verse, or within the lines of a poem. 
  • stanza: a set amount of lines grouped by rhythmical pattern and meter. It usually has four or more lines and is can be referred to as a verse.

  • tone: the poet’s attitude, emotions, and feelings towards the topic. 
lift every voice children
Lift every voice and sing   
Till earth and heaven ring, 
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; 
Let our rejoicing rise 
High as the listening skies, 
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. 
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, 
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.   
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, 
Let us march on till victory is won. 
Stony the road we trod, 
Bitter the chastening rod, 
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;   
Yet with a steady beat, 
Have not our weary feet 
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? 
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, 
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, 
Out from the gloomy past,   
Till now we stand at last 
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast. 
God of our weary years,   
God of our silent tears, 
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; 
Thou who hast by Thy might   
Led us into the light, 
Keep us forever in the path, we pray. 
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, 
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; 
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,   
May we forever stand.   
True to our God, 
True to our native land.

Elementary analysis:

Read each stanza and identify the Parts of Speech that Weldon uses:

Use a red pen and write the following abbreviations over as many Parts that you can identify:

  • Noun n.
  • Verb v.
  • Adjective adj.
  • Adverb ad.
  • Pronoun pro.
  • Conjunction con.
  • Interjection int.
  • Articles art.

v.    adj.      n.     con.   v. 

Lift every voice and sing 

  Till earth and heaven ring, 

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; 

Let our rejoicing rise 

High as the listening skies, 

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. 

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, 

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.   

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, 

Let us march on till victory is won. 

 

2. hymn: a song or ode in praise or honor of God, a deity, a nation.

               Circle the words that Weldon uses that help you identify this poem as a hymn. 

3. imagery: a poetic device used for language and description that appeals to our five senses including smell, sight, tough, taste, and sound.

               Read the following Lines. Underline the words that help you see or feel something. Describe the images that you see or feel.  

  • Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
  • We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
  • We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
  • Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

Advanced Analysis (middle – high school):

The poem begins with an invitation for all voices to join as one and sing until heaven hears and responds rings out with the harmonies of Liberty (freedom). It goes on to encourage us to rejoice with loud singing, in the blessings of heaven.
 
He uses similes to convey these ideas.
L5 High as the listening skies, 
L6 Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
What additional similes or metaphors can you find? Please indicate the Line number and describe the comparisons.
Tone is the poet’s attitude, emotions, and feelings towards the topic.
I espouse a somber tone that is designed to remind African Americans of our dark past and the days when we were without hope. Yet, at the same time, he believes that we are facing a “rising sun” that represents a “new day” filled with new hope and a bright future.  Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? Support your position with specific words and lines from the poem.
  1. Lift every voice and sing
  2. Till earth and heaven ring,
  3. Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
  4. Let our rejoicing rise
  5. High as the listening skies,
  6. Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
  7. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
  8. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.
  9. Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
  10. Let us march on till victory is won.
  11. Stony the road we trod,
  12. Bitter the chastening rod,
  13. Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
  14. Yet with a steady beat,
  15. Have not our weary feet
  16. Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
  17. We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
  18. We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
  19. Out from the gloomy past,
  20. Till now we stand at last
  21. Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
  22. God of our weary years,
  23. God of our silent tears,
  24. Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
  25. Thou who hast by Thy might
  26. Led us into the light,
  27. Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
  28. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
  29. Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
  30. Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
  31. May we forever stand.
  32. True to our God,
  33. True to our native land.

TAMS and ED stands for Technology, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Education.We provide a tough yet achievable home school for students who need personal attention in a safe home environment. We utilize a number of cross-curricular teaching tools including standard textbooks, computers and technology, academic excursions, and hands-on learning. Our qualified Board of directors consist of certified educators, parents, and administrators who are passionate about challenging every child to reach for the academic stars. Visit us online, click here.

We promote diversity and tolerance in a safe learning environment. For TAMS and ED students, the world is their classroom. Come and join us!

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Destination D.C. Part 1: Saving and Adding Money

To prepare for our Spring trip to Washington D.C., students, parents, and teachers all agreed that the students must have an active role in saving their own money. 

Jug paintSo, each week, they are foregoing the candy bars, doing extra chores, and bringing in their coins. They must bring in their savings every week, learn how to add their money, and keep a running tab. The money they save will become their spending money in D.C.

dollar jugA few weeks ago, they decorated their money jugs with pictures of D.C. hot spots. Today they are painting their money jugs and counting money.

Eden Painting

​The money jugs have become a fun activity for these girls who bring in coins every day.

felicia's jug

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Poetry Analysis: Learning Parts of Speech With Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or, What You Are You Are”

brooksGwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 17, 1917 – December 3, 2000) was an African American poet, author, and teacher. Her work often dealt with the personal celebrations and struggles of ordinary people in her community. Her poem, The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or, What You Are You Are features all 9 Parts of Speech, making it not only the perfect poem to study the various Parts, but also enables students to enjoy the majesty of a prolific African American woman. 

Let’s review the 9 Parts of Speech: 

NOUN: A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea (ex. dog, school, television, freedom)

PRONOUN: A pronoun is word that takes the place of a noun (ex. he, she, her, they, them, it)

VERB: A verb describes action (ex. ran, sing, dance, talk)  or state of being (ex. is, were, be, are, was)

ADJECTIVE: An adjective is a word that describes  (modifies) a noun (ex. yellow, big, beautiful, saddened, fierce).

ADVERB: An adverb is a word that describes (modifies) a verb, an adjective, or another adverb (ex. loudly, carefully, under).

ARTICLE: An article is a word used to modify a noun, which is a person, place, object, or idea. Technically, an article is an adjective, which is any word that modifies a noun. Articles indicate general or generic (a, an) and specific (the). (ex. I want dog. vs.  I want the dog that I saw on t.v.). 

CONJUNCTION: A conjunction joins words, phrases, or clauses, and indicates the relationship between the elements joined. The acronym F.A.N.B.O.Y.S., which stands for For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So)  Coordinating conjunctions connect grammatically equal elements: and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet. Subordinating conjunctions connect clauses that are not equal: because, although, while, since, etc. There are other types of conjunctions as well.

INTERJECTION: An interjection is a word used to express emotion. It is often followed by an exclamation point (ex. Help!, Fire! Yaay!).

PREPOSITION: A preposition is a word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phrase modifying another word in the sentence (ex. on, with, over, before, between).

First, read the poem. Write down as many of the Parts of Speech that you can identify. My examples follow.

 The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves,

or, What You Are You Are

By Gwendolyn Brooks

 

  1. There once was a tiger, terrible and tough,
  2. who said, “I don’t think tigers are stylish enough.
  3. They put on only orange and stripes of fierce black.
  4. Fine and fancy fashion is what they mostly lack.
  5. Even though they proudly
  6. speak most loudly,
  7. so that the jungle shakes
  8. and every eye awakes—
  9. Even though they slither
  10. hither and thither
  11. in such a wild way
  12. that few may care to stay—
  13. to be tough just isn’t enough.”
  14. These things the tiger said,
  15. And growled and tossed his head,
  16. and rushed to the jungle fair
  17. for something fine to wear.
  18. Then!—what a hoot and yell
  19. upon the jungle fell
  20. The rhinoceros rasped!
  21. The elephant gasped!
  22. “By all that’s sainted!”
  23. said wolf—and fainted.
  24. The crocodile cried.
  25. The lion sighed.
  26. The leopard sneered.
  27. The jaguar jeered.
  28. The antelope shouted.
  29. The panther pouted.
  30. Everyone screamed
  31. “We never dreamed
  32. that ever could be
  33. in history
  34. a tiger who loves
  35. to wear white gloves.
  36. White gloves are for girls
  37. with manners and curls
  38. and dresses and hats and bow-ribbons.
  39. That’s the way it always was
  40. and rightly so, because
  41. it’s nature’s nice decree
  42. that tiger folk should be
  43. not dainty, but daring,
  44. and wisely wearing
  45. what’s fierce as the face,
  46. not whiteness and lace!”
  47. They shamed him and shamed him—
  48. till none could have blamed him,
  49. when at last, with a sigh
  50. and a saddened eye,
  51. and in spite of his love,
  52. he took off each glove,
  53. and agreed this was meant
  54. all to prevail:
  55. each tiger content
  56. with his lashing tail
  57. and satisfied
  58. with his strong striped hide.

 

Here is a partial review of the Parts of Speech I found in this poem. What else can you find?

Line 2: who said, “I don’t think tigers are stylish enough.”

     The word tigers is a plural noun. 

Line 3: They put on only orange and stripes of fierce black

  The word they is a pronoun. It takes the place of the plural noun tigers. 

Line 4: Fine and Fancy fashion is what they mostly lack.

      The words fine and fancy are adjectives.  These adjectives describe the word fashion.

Lines 9 & 10:   L9 Even though they slither  L10  hither and thither

      The words hither and there are adverbs.  These adverbs describe the verb slither

 Lines 16 & 17 contain prepositions. The word to is a preposition. 

     Line 16 and rushed to the jungle fair

     Line 17 for something fine to wear.

Line 18  Then!—what a hoot and yell

     The word Then! is an interjection. 

Lines 24 – 29 all end with powerful verbs that describes what each animal did. Each line begins with the word the, which is an article. 

  • The crocodile cried.
  • The lion sighed.
  • The leopard sneered.
  • The jaguar jeered.
  • The antelope shouted.
  • The panther pouted.

Lines 37 & 38 use conjunctions to connect individual words. The word and is a conjunction.

     Line 37 with manners and curls

     Line 38 and dresses and hats and bow-ribbons.

 

Feel free to copy and paste this lesson and use it as a supplement to your lessons on the Parts of Speech and/or African American Poetry. For more lessons that emphasize African Americans, follow my blog. Also, like us on Facebook, TAMS and ED Homeschool. Visit our website at http://www.tamsanded.com 

Poetic Devices

What is poetry?

Poetry is literature in meter form. It is a form of written word that has pattern and rhythm and rhyme. It can be serious or it can be fun. Poetry is as creative as you make it. 

Poetry for young peopleBasic poetry is in verse form, called a stanza, made up of meters created by feet. The amount of lines there are in a stanza decides what type of poem is written. There can be more than one stanza to a poem and then for effect throw in a chorus and a refrain.

The stanzas can have rhythm and rhyme or just be a blank verse!

Glossary of Terms and Types

acrostic: An acrostic poem is a type of poetry where the first, last or other letters in a line spell out a particular word or phrase. The most common and simple form of an acrostic poem is where the first letters of each line spell out the word or phrase.

adjective: a word that describes a noun in a sentence.

alliteration: the repetition of a sound at the beginning of a word in a sequence of nearby words

alternate rhyme: It is also known as ABAB rhyme scheme, it rhymes as “ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH.”

anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses

appositive: When a noun or word is followed by another noun or phrase that renames or identifies it, this is called appositive. This is a literary device that appears before or after a noun or noun phrase. It is always set off with commas.

assonance: the repetition of identical or similar vowels

ballad: a poem that tells a story, which are often used in songs because of their rhyme. A ballad is a poetic story, often a love story.

consonance: the repetition of the same consonant or consonant pattern two or more times in short succession.

Image result for danitra brown class clown imagescouplet: a pair of lines of the same length that rhyme and complete one thought. There is no limit to the length of the lines.

hyperbole: the use of exaggeration for effect

Iambic pentameter: describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in a line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called “feet.” The word “iambic” describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word “pentameter” indicates that a line has five of these “feet”.

idiom: an expression where the literal meaning of the words is not the meaning of the expression

One Last Wordimagery: appealing to one of the five senses

interjection: a word that strongly expresses feelings and emotions. Fire! Help! Yaay! 

line: Similar to a sentence in prose, poetry is written in lines.

 metaphor an implied comparison between things essentially unlike

noun: a word that is a person, place, thing, or idea

onomatopoeia: a word whose sound seems to resemble closely the sound it denotes OR sounds that imitate another sound

personification: an inanimate object or concept is given human characteristics or feelings

preposition: a word that shows location in time and/or space. 

prose: the ordinary form of written or spoken language. repetition is when a word or sentence is placed more than once within a poem

quatrain: Four lines of poetry with similar meter and a specific rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme follows one of four patterns: AABBABAB, ABBA, or ABCB. A quatrain might be a poem by itself, or a poem might consist of a series of quatrains grouped together.

rhyme: the repetition of sounds at the end of words

rhyming words: words that sound the same when spoken, they don’t necessarily have to be spelled the same

rhythmrhythm: the pattern of stresses within a line of verse. All spoken word has a rhythm formed by stressed and unstressed syllables. When you write words in a sentence (line) you will notice patterns forming.

simile: a figure of speech that compares two things by using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ something else. They are compared indirectly.

stanza: a set amount of lines grouped by rhythmical pattern and meter. It usually has four or more lines and is can be referred to as a verse.

syllable: a single unit of written or spoken word, an unbroken sound used to make up words

theme: the underlying message

tone: an attitude (sad, happy, angry, determined, etc…) of a writer toward a subject or an audience 

symbol: a word or an image that signifies something other than what it represents, with multiple meanings and connotations

verb:  a doing word. It’s the word that gives the action in a sentence.

powerful verb: is when you use a synonym to make your writing more descriptive and exciting.

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TAMS and ED stands for Technology, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Education. We provide a tough yet achievable home school for students who need personal attention in a safe home environment. We utilize a number of cross-curricular teaching tools including standard textbooks, computers and technology, academic excursions, and hands-on learning. Our qualified Board of directors consist of certified educators, parents, and administrators who are passionate about challenging every child to reach for the academic stars. Visit us online, click here.

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Poetry analysis: Imagery & Onomatopoeia

        For this lesson, I used the book, I Got the Rhythm, by Connie Schofield-Morrison who uses imagery and onomatopoeia to help us experience the beats that makes our bodies rock. Before I jump into that, however, I want to send a shout out to illustrator, Frank Morrison, whose art captures the essence of finding the rhythm within ourselves!

“To find the rhythm in yourself, all you’ve got to do is look around.” 

rhythm
I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

imagery: the literary term used for language and description that appeals to our five senses. smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing. 

onomatopoeia a word, which imitates the natural sounds of a thing. A few examples: “Honk honk,” says the car or “Ssssssss,” says the snake. 

Although I Got the Rhythm is not a book of poetry, per se, it is, nonetheless, a great resource that breaks down the elements of imagery and onomatopoeia, which are two prominent poetic devices. 

About the book: On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.Related image

Teachers, instruct your students to close their eyes and listen as you read the book. Tell them to point to the body part (eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and ears) that describes the images as you read them. Remind them of the definition of imagery and encourage them to feel the experience. 

Image result for frank morrison illustrator I got the rhythm

I’ve Got the Rhythm

By Connie Schofield-Morrison

I thought of a rhythm in my mind think think

I heard the rhythm with my ears beat beat

I looked at the rhythm with my eyes beat beat

I smelled the rhythm with my nose sniff sniff

I sang the rhythm with my mouth ooh la la

I caught the rhythm with my hands clap clap

I kept the rhythm with my fingers snap snap

I shook a rhythm with my hips shake shake

I felt the rhythm with my knees knock knock

I walked the rhythm with my feet stomp stomp

I tapped the rhythm with my toes tip tap

I danced to the rhythm of a drum beat bop

Related image

 

I clapped and snapped

I tipped and tapped

I popped and locked

I hipped and hopped

 

Analysis: Refer to my blog on Poetic Devices for definitions of the following as needed:

  • How many times does the author use the word “rhythm”?  Why do you think she repeats the word so many times?
  • What is the theme of this poem? 
  • What is the mood of this poem? 
  • How do the illustrations complement the words? 
  • Underline the verbs. Write a synonym for each one. 
  • Write two examples of imagery used.
  • “snap snap,” “clap clap,” “beat bop,” “bing bang” and “boom boom” are examples of onomatopoeia. Write what each sound is describing. For example, “snap snap” is the sound of fingers snapping. 

About the author: Connie Schofield-Morrison has been writing since she was a young girl and is inspired every day by the big sounds and bright colors of the world around her. I Got the Rhythm is her first picture book.

About the illustrator: Growing up in New Jersey, Frank Morrison began developing his own style through ‘R.I.P’ art scenes that brought him considerable street recognition and local acclaim. But it wasn’t until he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris with his dancing group, that he realized painting was his true creative path. His talent and hard work paid off with over 20 illustrated children’s books, including the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner, Jazzy Miz Mozetta and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book, Little Melba and her Big Trombone.

************

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TAMS and ED stands for Technology, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Education. We provide a tough yet achievable home school for students who need personal attention in a safe home environment. We utilize a number of cross-curricular teaching tools including standard textbooks, computers and technology, academic excursions, and hands-on learning. Our qualified Board of directors consist of certified educators, parents, and administrators who are passionate about challenging every child to reach for the academic stars. Visit us online, click here.

We promote diversity and tolerance in a safe learning environment. For TAMS and ED students, the world is their classroom. Come and join us!

 

 

Poetry analysis: “Equipment” by Edgar A. Guest

I am constantly seeking ways to help my students develop a love for poetry. I strongly believe that poetry helps children develop not only an interest in reading but also a love for writing. Unlike books and essays, poems are short and many of the same devices used in poetry are used in prose. A line in poetry is similar to a sentence in prose. A stanza is similar to a paragraph. A simile is used in both poetry and prose. Like prose, poems are often written from a certain point of view, follow a certain genre, and tell memorable stories. 

I use a variety of tools including graphic organizers, P.L.O.R.E., read aloud, read silently, reader’s theater, memorization, and even costumes to help my students develop a love for poetry.  

The poem, Equipment, by Edgar A. Guest is a student favorite because of the positive message. It’s also universal, although Guest addresses the “lad,” which is mostly thought of as a young male, the poem actually has universal appeal that both male and female can embrace. 

Edgar Albert Guest was born in 1881 in Birmingham, England. He moved to American when he was 10 and became a naturalized citizen soon after. He became known as the “People’s Poet” because of the optimistic nature of his life’s work and his popularity.  His poem, Equipment, was Dr.  George Washington Carver’s favorite poem. The reading below is of Dr. Carver who  read this poem it at an audio station at the George Washington Carver Museum.

Equipment

By Edgar A. Guest

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say ‘I can.’

Look them over, the wise and great,
They take their food from a common plate
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes,
The world considers them brave and smart.
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if only you will,
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go.
How much you will study the truth to know,
God has equipped you for life, But He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win,
So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: ‘I can.’ 

Analysis: In this poem, Edgar A. Guest speaks to young people. He challenges them to look within and believe in themselves. He explains that God has given them all that they need to succeed. He explains that they are no different than the “greatest of men.” All that they is needed is the will to dig deep, use what God has given them, and achieve great heights. 

STANZA 1:

  • This poem is written in couplets (a pair of lines of the same length that rhyme and complete one thought). In stanza 1, there are three couplets that challenge the “lad” to figure it out by realizing that he/she has all of the same “equipment” to succeed, just like the “greatest of men.”
  • The tone (poet’s attitude) of this poem is one of determined optimism. In the first stanza, he optimistically insists that you, we, the “lad” is quite capable. She must figure it out, use her brain, and and begin with two words: “I can.”

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say ‘I can.’

STANZA 2:

  • He begins by telling the lad to “Look them over” and he uses an appositive (clarifying information that’s set off with a comma) to explain who “them” are.  
  • He uses everyday examples to draw parallels between “them” and the “lad” and he uses the word “similar” twice to emphasize his point.
  • He also uses the conjunction “but” to to bring the “brave and smart” back to the beginning when they made their start, when they weren’t great, when they were students in school, just like the “lad.”  

Look them over, the wise and great,
They take their food from a common plate
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes,
The world considers them brave and smart.
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

STANZAS 3 & 4:

  • “You are the handicap you face” is a metaphor that tells the student that she creates her own obstacles. She must face her own doubts and overcome her fears. 
  • He uses anaphora (repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive lines) to shift the focus to “you.” His goal is to get the individual to see herself as one who can do it. In Stanza 1, he instructed her to say it. Now, he is drilling the point that she is equipped, she is able, and she absolutely can. 
  • In Stanza 4, he instructs the student to get out of her own way, speak truth over her life, study hard, and believe that God has equipped her to succeed.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if only you will,
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go.
How much you will study the truth to know,
God has equipped you for life, But He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

STANZA 5

  • He uses strong words like “courage” and “soul” and “will” to spark determination within the lad. 
  • He repeats his opening line, “figure it out for yourself, my lad,” to remind the lad that, ultimately, she must put in the work in order to succeed. 
  • He closes by repeating another line that places emphasis on the importance of speaking positive words to and about ourselves. 

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win,
So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: ‘I can.’ 

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Poetry Analysis: Family Gathering by Nikki Grimes (Grades 3rd – 8th)

 

P.L.O.R.E. a reading strategy that teaches children to Predict what the passage is about, Locate new vocabulary words, names, dates, and facts, Organize thoughts and ideas, Read / Re-read the passage for better understanding, and Evaluate what the passage is about.

Setting:  the where” and “when” of the poem. Setting is an environment or surrounding in which an event or story takes place. 

Tone: the poet’s attitude toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed by the words that the poet uses. The tone can be formal, informal, serious, comic, sarcastic, sad, or cheerful, or it may be any other existing attitude.

Image result for aneesa lee and the weaver's gift imageAneesa Lee and the Weaver’s Gift is a book of poetry about a girl, Aneesa, who is Japanese and black. The book opens with what author NIkki Grimes calls “Weaving Words.” Throughout the book, Grimes weaves poetry that adventures through Aneesa’s personal experiences including being teased about her family heritage.  

In Family Gathering we will use P.L.O.R.E. reading strategies (Predict, Locate, Organize, Read/Reread, and Evaluate) to determine setting and tone. 

Family Gathering

by Nikki Grimes

Beneath the forest canopy

Aneesa and her family

Enjoy a Sunday’s peaceful pleasure

Gathering blueberry treasure

Then all join in Aneesa’s search

For maple, alder, and white birch,

For marigold and goldenrod,

Raw dyestuff sprouting from the sod

All dandelions, roots, and nettles,

Berries and wildflower petals

Possess within at least a hint

Of Mother Nature’s rainbow tint.

Aneesa works her spade and dreams

Of dipping silk in saffron pools,

And elderberry lilac streams,

Of wringing green from privet leaves,

And all the while her cuffs and sleeves

Are staining green and purple.

Let’s explore with P.L.O.R.E.

 

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P stands for PREDICT.  Read the title and predict what the text will be about. Jot down a few ideas. 

What does the title, Family Gathering, suggest?  

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 Next, LOCATE and circle key words, names, and dates. Underline significant ideas and important passages.

How do the words, “peaceful,” and “pleasure” set the tone?

 

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ORGANIZE  your thoughts. Use the space space in the margins to jot down thoughts and ideas that you develop as you read.

As you read, consider words that you do not know the meanings of. Write them in your vocabulary journal. For example, what do the following words mean?

  • canopy
  • alder
  • saffron
  • privet

 

What are some other key thoughts that help you understand this poem? Jot down a few ideas that will help you Evaluate this poem. Remember, you must be able to prove your Evaluation with evidence from the text. This is know as “text evidence,” or “proof.”

20150525_194316RE-READ the poem. Summarize your second reading. Now that you have defined vocabulary words and considered setting and tone, is your understanding more clear?

 

 

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 Carefully EVALUATE the poem.

  • Number the lines.
  • Answer the following:
    • What makes this a poem?
    • What is this poem about?
    • What is the poet’s message?
    • What tools did the poet use to help show his/her meaning?
  • Highlight Line 1. How does this line describe the setting of this poem?
  • Highlight Line 2. Which words or words set the tone of this poem? Why?
  • Go back an look at the ideas you wrote down in the section called “Organize.” Use those ideas plus the other P.L.O.R.E. strategies to write your evaluation. 

Image result for NIKKI GRIMES imagesABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nikki Grimes was born in Harlem in 1950. She began writing when she was six, and was a voracious reader throughout her childhood; she gave her first public poetry reading at a local library there when she was 13.

 

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