February 14, 2006

Love, Sonnets, and Hamsters

I thought it would be challenging to see if my eighth graders could write sonnets. We are knee deep in the poetry unit, and I figured just because I am not a fan of metered verse, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be exposed to it. Therefore, as we make our way through imagery, figurative language, and all the other great things about poetry, we are also following a more traditional metered tangent.

They pretend like they hate it, but they are coming around. At least that’s what I tell myself. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I assigned a group of thirteen year olds to write a love sonnet. I told them to get as romantic and melodramatic as they could. For those of you not familiar with the form here are the details:

The sonnet is a metered poem in Iambic Pentameter. Which means each line has five feet, or ten syllables, with the accents falling on every other syllable starting with the second one. (Good times in Mr. Raisdana’s class) There are fourteen lines following the abab/cdcd/efef/gg Believe it or not I would say about 80% of my class could tell you that, well definitely 70%.

Whenever they whine and tell me that whatever we are doing is too hard. This is what I tell them: “Imagine that there is a little hamster in your little heads. He likes to run on his little wheel, but with all the MSN chat, video games, TV, and mindless conversations you have, he is too weak to run anymore. He just sits in the water dish getting fat and lazy. It is my job to resuscitate your little hamsters, and nothing will get him or her running like writing a sonnet.” They laugh. I laugh. We laugh together. We write. Our hamsters running.

I also told them that nothing says love like an original sonnet written by their own hand. Never one to follow the do as I say- not as I do philosophy, I decided to try my hand at writing a sonnet. After all if it is worth teaching, it is worth doing right? It looks like my hamster could have used a work out to. How is yours doing?

i told them a hand written sonnet would be a good gift

somewhere behind your eyes i find my home
you’re why i’ll be who i was meant to be
safe from the road i have no place to roam
you are my roots my trunk you are my tree
before we met i was a ship so lost
with compass in hand i was led astray
on open ocean oh how i was tossed
my wishes granted because i had prayed
your love has been for me the perfect cure
it is in your light i will always bask
in the world nothing else can be so pure
an empty vessel i will be your cask
i am not sure how i have passed this test
but everyday i wake feel i am blessed

1. please notice that writing a sonnet was one of the items on the previous post titled: to do.
2. I was right. My wife loved the poem

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