How to Eat a Poem: A Smorgasbord of Tasty and Delicious Poems for Young Readers

How to Eat a Poem: A Smorgasbord of Tasty and Delicious Poems for Young Readers


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Focusing on popular verse from the nineteenth century through today, this anthology invites young readers to sample a taste of irresistible poems that will nourish their minds and spirits. Selected for both popularity and literary quality, seventy charming poems cover a wide range of subjects: poetry, books, words, and imagination; the beauty of the natural world; travel, adventure, sports, and play; love, friendship, sadness, hope, and other emotions. Included are:
"Prickled Pickles Don't Smile," Nikki Giovanni
"W. D., Don't Fear that Animal," W. D. Snodgrass
"A Jelly-Fish," Marianne Moore
"The Porcupine," Ogden Nash
"Annabel Lee," Edgar Allan Poe
"The Falling Star," Sara Teasdale
"Sick," Shel Silverstein
"Casey at the Bat," Ernest Lawrence Thayer
"With Kitty, Age Seven, At the Beach," William Stafford
"Hope is the Thing with Feathers," Emily Dickinson
. . . . and sixty other notable works.
Chosen by the American Poetry & Literacy Project and the Academy of American Poets, two of the nation's most respected nonprofit poetry organizations, these much-loved and highly readable poems promise young readers and poetry lovers of all ages hours of reading pleasure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486451596
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 03/10/2006
Series: Dover Children's Classics
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 48,735
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 8 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

How to eat a Poem

A Smorgasbord of Tasty and Delicious Poems for Young Readers

By Andrew Carroll, Charles Flowers, Douglas Korb

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11095-0


    The First Book

    Rita Dove

    Open it.

    Go ahead, it won't bite.
    Well ... maybe a little.

    More a nip, like. A tingle.
    It's pleasurable, really.

    You see, it keeps on opening.
    You may fall in.

    Sure, it's hard to get started;
    remember learning to use

    knife and fork? Dig in:
    You'll never reach bottom.

    It's not like it's the end of the world—
    just the world as you think

    you know it.

    There Is No Frigate Like a Book

    Emily Dickinson

    There is no frigate like a book
    To take us lands away,
    Nor any coursers like a page
    Of prancing poetry.
    This traverse may the poorest take
    Without oppress of toll;
    How frugal is the chariot
    That bears a human soul!

    from"Magic Words"

    Inuit (Eskimo) passage, translated by Edward Field

    In the very earliest time,
    When both people and animals lived on earth,
    A person could become an animal if he wanted to
    And an animal could become a human being.
    Sometimes they were people
    And sometimes animals
    And there was no difference.
    All spoke the same language.
    That was the time when words were like magic.
    The human mind had mysterious powers.
    A word spoken by chance
    Might have strange consequences.
    It would suddenly come alive
    And what people wanted to happen could happen
    All you had to do was say it.

    Introduction to Poetry

    Billy Collins

    I ask them to take a poem
    and hold it up to the light
    like a color slide
    or press an ear against its hive.
    I say drop a mouse into a poem
    and watch him probe his way out,
    or walk inside the poem's room
    and feel the walls for a light switch.
    I want them to waterski
    across the surface of a poem
    waving at the author's name on the shore.
    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.
    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.

    The Poem

    Amy Lowell

    It is only a little twig
    With a green bud at the end;
    But if you plant it,
    And water it,
    And set it where the sun will be above it,
    It will grow into a tall bush
    With many flowers,
    And leaves which thrust hither and thither
    From its roots will come freshness,
    And beneath it the grass-blades
    Will bend and recover themselves,
    And clash one upon another
    In the blowing wind.
    But if you take my twig
    And throw it into a closet
    With mousetraps and blunted tools,
    It will shrivel and waste
    And, some day,
    When you open the door,
    You will think it an old twisted nail,
    And sweep it into the dust bin
    With other rubbish.

    Ars Poetica

    Archibald MacLeish

    A poem should be palpable and mute
    As a globed fruit

    As old medallions to the thumb

    Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
    Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

    A poem should be wordless
    As the flight of birds

    A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs

    Leaving, as the moon releases
    Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

    Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
    Memory by memory the mind—

    A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs

    A poem should be equal to:
    Not true

    For all the history of grief
    An empty doorway and a maple leaf

    For love
    The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea

    A poem should not mean
    But be

    How to Eat a Poem

    Eve Merriam

    Don't be polite.
    Bite in.
    Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that may run down         your chin.
    It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

    You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
    or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

    For there is no core
    or stem
    or rind
    or pit
    or seed
    or skin
    to throw away.

    Six Words

    Lloyd Schwartz







    never ...



    yes no
    maybe sometimes
    always never.

    Prickled Pickles Don't Smile

    Nikki Giovanni

    Never tickle,
    a prickled pickle
    'cause prickled pickles
    Don't smile

    Never goad
    a loaded toad
    when he has to walk
    A whole mile

    Froggies go courting
    with weather reporting
    that indicates
    There are no snows

    But always remember
    the month of December
    is very hard
    On your nose

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    Wallace Stevens


    Among twenty snowy mountains,
    The only moving thing
    Was the eye of the blackbird.


    I was of three minds,
    Like a tree
    In which there are three blackbirds.


    The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
    It was a small part of the pantomime.


    A man and a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a woman and a blackbird
    Are one.


    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.


    Icicles filled the long window
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the blackbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause.


    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?


    I know noble accents
    And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
    But I know, too,
    That the blackbird is involved
    In what I know.


    When the blackbird flew out of sight,
    It marked the edge
    Of one of many circles.


    At the sight of blackbirds
    Flying in a green light,
    Even the bawds of euphony
    Would cry out sharply.


    He rode over Connecticut
    In a glass coach.
    Once, a fear pierced him
    In that he mistook
    The shadow of his equipage
    For blackbirds.


    The river is moving.
    The blackbird must be flying.


    It was evening all afternoon.
    It was snowing
    And it was going to snow.
    The blackbird sat
    In the cedar-limbs.

    This Is Just to Say

    William Carlos Williams

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold


Excerpted from How to eat a Poem by Andrew Carroll, Charles Flowers, Douglas Korb. Copyright © 2006 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The First Book, Rita Dove
There Is No Frigate Like a Book, Emily Dickinson
from "Magic Words," Inuit (Eskimo) passage
Introduction to Poetry, Billy Collins
The Poem, Amy Lowell
Ars Poetica, Archibald MacLeish
How to Eat a Poem, Eve Merriam
Six Words, Lloyd Schwartz
Prickled Pickles Don't Smile, Nikki Giovanni
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, Wallace Stevens
This Is Just to Say, William Carlos Williams
Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Koch
Today is Very Boring, Jack Prelutsky
The Unwritten, W. S. Merwin
Write, Do Write, Marilyn Chin

My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold, William Wordsworth
W. D., Don't Fear That Animal, W. D. Snodgrass
Swift Things Are Beautiful, Elizabeth Coatsworth
Summer, Kawabata Bosha
Autumn, Arakida Moritake
Winter, Takarai Kikaku
Spring, Matsuo Basho
Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
The Desert Is My Mother, Pat Mora
El desierto es mi madre, Pat Mora
maggie and milly and molly and may, E. E. Cummings
A Jelly-Fish, Marianne Moore
The Eagle, Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Eagle Poem, Joy Harjo
Considering the Snail, Thom Gunn
The Porcupine, Ogden Nash
The Crocodile, Lewis Carroll
The Tyger, William Blake
Steam Shovel, Charles Malan
Cartoon Physics, part 1, Nick Flynn
The Falling Star, Sara Teasdale
Halley's Comet, Stanley Kunitz
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer, Walt Whitman


Sick, Shel Silverstein
Travel, Edna St. Vincent Millay
Insomnia, Marilyn Nelson
Harlem Night Song, Langston Hughes
The Rider, Naomi Shihab Nye
The Jogger on Riverside Drive, 5:00 A.M., Agha Shahid Ali
First Love, Carl Lindner
Skier, Robert Francis
Skater, Ted Kooser
The Acrobat, Wislawa Szymborska
Baseball, Linda Pastan
Casey at the Bat, Ernest Lawrence Thayer
One Art, Elizabeth Bishop
I Think Over Again My Small Adventures, Anonymous
Bed In Summer, Robert Lewis Stevenson
from The Bed Book, Sylvia Plath
Summons, Robert Francis


Shirley Said, Dennis Doyle
Oranges, Gary Soto
The Floor and the Ceiling, William Jay Smith
Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
Sympathy, Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley
Spring and Fall, Gerard Manley Hopkins
Trees, Walter Dean Myers
With Kit, Age Seven, At the Beach, William Stafford
At the End of the Weekend, Ted Kooser
Little Old Letter, Langston Hughes
from "I Am a Black Woman," Mari Evans
homage to my hips, Lucille Clifton
Childhood Morning—Homebush, James McAuley
Hope Is the Thing with Feathers, Emily Dickinson
Quintrain, Said 'Aql


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