One of the saddest poems deals with people who have lost the ability to speak or think for themselves:
“ours is not to reason why
ours is but to do or die”
most adults of a certain age would be familiar with where those lines were paraphrased from –
onward rode and marched those 600-
Well, I paraphrased Lord Alfred Tennyson and his poem,
The Charge of the Light Brigade
the actual lines are:
(Stanza two of six)
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
When anyone might ask about teaching both poetry and empathy these lines from the Victorian poet come to mind. As educators we encourage our students to question, to apply reason be it in Math or in English class (Logic) and regardless of grade or age these lines contain power. How frightful- someone had “blundered”?!- and poof – a massacre. Could it really be that simple-that devastating? Unfortunately, YES.
History, logic, power structures, civics, geography, rhyme, rhythm and REASON all in one poem. And yet people question the value of “Poetry Month”. True, poetry won’t do what some of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math )subjects might, but it could remind our future scientists, technologists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, merchant chiefs and dancers, singers, musicians, writers, politicians and military personnel- the list can continue to include parents and future leaders all-that being human incorporates an ability to think, to feel, to comprehend and to be shattered. Oughtn’t we then to make room for a poetry lesson, or two?