P is for Poetry and Flags

During poetry instruction at school, I’d roll my eyes and try to catch a quick nap. Rules, boxes, counting, conforming. They all equaled one thing.


Now? As a wife? As a mom? As one who has a few more years under her belt than that of my whipper snapper self sitting drowsy in high school English Lit -years that have given me a much deeper appreciation for life and beauty and words and how beautifully they can sound when ya sling em round just right?

Now, -to that gal- poetry r-o-c-k-s.

And while you might not ever see our names in any poetry books, you can bet that here at my house, my kids have heard some good ones and that I make em pound out a poem every now and again. Why? Because of this:


Spoken, sung, whispered, written, you really can’t get much more expressive or moving than a few wisely chosen words. Think I’m exaggerating?

APRIL 2013 140

Let me share a little of our history lesson from today:

“As a rainstorm blew up, Key anxiously strained his eyes for a glimpse of the fort. Was the giant flag still flying? Key pulled a letter from his pocket and began to scribble some words on the back.

‘Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro the perilous fight.

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?’

As the breeze tugged at the paper’s edges, the man continued writing. The words flowed easily.

‘And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof thru’ the night that our flag was still there.

Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?’

(From Sea to Shining Sea for Young Readers, Book 2, pg 96-97)

Upon reading this today, my kids right away picked up on the fact that this, the beloved and cherished song of our country, the one that waters the eyes of millions with its opening notes, didn’t start out as our national anthem.

It started as the heart surge of a young man in a seemingly random moment in history. It started as the simple action of acknowledging the emotions within him and wanting to record them. It started as just a few words scratched out on paper.

Our famous and beloved National Anthem?

It started out as a poem.

Next month is National Poetry month. Use what God gave ya and scratch out a few words of your own. You never know what the stirrings of your heart will bring to another person.

You might just make your wife cry (“You are the flowers in my garden and the sun in my sky”…). You might bring chills and scare the jeebs out of folks for NEVERMORE.

Or you might just bind a people and unite a country.

Poetry isn’t boring. And words…

…words are important.


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