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The Study of Poetry and Literature for Children & Young Adults

Poetry Module 5: Multicultural Poetry

Poetry Break #1: A Poem by an African American Poet

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William Stanley Braithwaite (1878-1962)

Introduction: This poem speaks to me through its simplicity and enthusiasm for life and the gifts it brings. Most effective for grades five and up, the poem could be used for younger advanced students.
 
Rhapsody
 
By William Stanley Braithwaite
 
I am glad daylong for the gift of song.
For time and change and sorrow;
For the sunset wings and the world-end things
Which hang on the edge of tomorrow.
I am glad for my heart whose gates apart
Are the entrance place of wonders,
Where dreams come in from the rush and din
Like sheep from the rains and thunders.
 
 
Poetry Extension: Read the poem through a minimum of two times allowing the students time to visualize the feelings the author is trying to convey.
 
Rhapsody can be used as a poem representing an African-American author that lived from 1878 to 1962. Help the children to research this time period and speculate what this author was grateful for or enthusiastic about. What major civil rights milestones occurred during this period? To tie in with an English assignment, read To Kill a Mockingbird which was set in the 1930s. Tie this into a social studies assignment with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.
 
This can be followed with the theme or definition of rhapsody,  (1.Exalted or excessively enthusiastic expression of feeling in speech or writing 2.A literary work written in an impassioned or exalted style 3.A state of elated bliss; ecstasy) Definition of Rhapsody from the Website, www.dictionary.com
 
What are the students grateful for? How do they personally define rhapsody? Have them write a poem or draw a picture showing what they are enthusiastic about. Be prepared for a variety of answers.

Rochelle, Belinda. 2001. Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art. Singapore: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060293632
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Click on the following link to proceed to the next poetry break.

Poetry Break #2