The first poet that the girls studied for this homeschool year was Robert Browning. They listened to one poem per week for six weeks, and gave their feedback about what they liked/didn't like/thought about each poem.
Below are the six poems and their responses after they heard them:
The Bee with His Comb
(from Pippa Passes)
The bee with his comb,
The mouse at her dray,
The grub in his tomb,
While winter way;
But the fire-fly and hedge-shrew and lob-worm, I pray,
How fare they?
The summer of life so easy to spend,
And care for to-morrow so soon put away!
But winter hastens at summer's end,
And fire-fly, hedge-shrew, lob-worm, pray,
How fare they?
Sophia thought it was interesting because of the words he used. They are not words that you normally hear. For example, "The grub in his tomb." It was an okay poem. It wouldn't be something I'd want to listen to again.
Olivia liked it because it sounded "fair - like the bee had its own home. I think the bee felt sorry for the other insects and animals that didn't have homes."
Meeting at Night
The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
Sophia thought "...it was okay. The wording was nice. It was harder to understand than some of the other poems I've heard."
Olivia said, "It wasn't my favorite poem because it was about love. I prefer the other poem book with shorter poems that I can understand better."
Let's contend no more, Love,
Strive nor weep:
All be as before, Love,
What so wild as words are?
I and thou
In debate, as birds are,
Hawk on bough!
See the creature stalking
While we speak!
Hush and hide the talking,
Cheek on cheek!
What so false as truth is,
False to thee?
Where the serpent's tooth is
Shun the tree---
Where the apple reddens
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.
Be a god and hold me
With a charm!
Be a man and fold me
With thine arm!
Teach me, only teach, Love
As I ought
I will speak thy speech, Love,
Think thy thought---
Meet, if thou require it,
Laying flesh and spirit
In thy hands.
That shall be to-morrow
I must bury sorrow
Out of sight:
---Must a little weep, Love,
And so fall asleep, Love,
Loved by thee.
Sophia thought it was okay. I liked the tone of it, but it just sounded mixed up.
Olivia asked if that was the whole poem or lots of little poems."I rather liked it...it sounded like love."
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
Sophia said, "I liked it. It rhymed and it was kind of cute. I liked the beginning and end the best."
Olivia thought it was okay. "It kind of rhymed and kind of didn't. I liked the part about the bird who sat on the orchard bough."
All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
Sophia said, "I like that one! There were lots of words that began with 'S' - like solace. You never hear of 'solace.' It wasn't the shortest I've heard. I've heard shorter poems. You said it was going to be short."
Olivia said, "I liked it because I liked the colors of the star. I liked the part that said 'a dart of red' and 'a dark of blue.'"
A Serenade at the Villa
That was I, you heard last night,
When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.
Not a twinkle from the fly,
Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I.
Earth turned in her sleep with pain,
Sultrily suspired for proof:
In at heaven and out again,
Lightning!---where it broke the roof,
Bloodlike, some few drops of rain.
What they could my words expressed,
O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
And when singing's best was done,
To my lute I left the rest.
So wore night; the East was gray,
White the broad-faced hemlock-flowers:
There would be another day;
Ere its first of heavy hours
Found me, I had passed away.
What became of all the hopes,
Words and song and lute as well?
Say, this struck you---``When life gropes
``Feebly for the path where fell
``Light last on the evening slopes,
``One friend in that path shall be,
``To secure my step from wrong;
``One to count night day for me,
``Patient through the watches long,
``Serving most with none to see.''
Never say---as something bodes---
``So, the worst has yet a worse!
``When life halts 'neath double loads,
``Better the taskmaster's curse
``Than such music on the roads!
``When no moon succeeds the sun,
``Nor can pierce the midnight's tent
``Any star, the smallest one,
``While some drops, where lightning rent,
``Show the final storm begun---
``When the fire-fly hides its spot,
``When the garden-voices fail
``In the darkness thick and hot,---
``Shall another voice avail,
``That shape be where these are not?
``Has some plague a longer lease,
``Proffering its help uncouth?
``Can't one even die in peace?
``As one shuts one's eyes on youth,
``Is that face the last one sees?''
Oh how dark your villa was,
Windows fast and obdurate!
How the garden grudged me grass
Where I stood---the iron gate
Ground its teeth to let me pass!
Sophia said, "I liked the first part, and then I kind of tuned out. The first part was nice and the last part was good...but the middle part I just didn't understand so I tuned it out."
Olivia said, "I liked the first and third verse - the one with the lightning in it. I thought it sounded nice."
Out of all the poets we have studied so far during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 homeschooling years, the girls shared these thoughts about Robert Browning:
Sophia said, "I didn't think he was the clearest poet we've heard. I liked the topics he chose. He chose big words. You don't hear half of those words being used anymore."
Olivia said, "I liked the smaller poems that are in another poetry book that we're reading this year (All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth). I prefer those," she said. Robert Browning was "kind of hard" to understand.