Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sangeetha's Top Ten

1. Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) "The Highwayman"
Imagery, sound devices, alliteration, refrain... u name it, and it's there. This sombre ballad is a good example for students (between sec 2 and 4) not just for the effective use of literary devices but also for its powerful narrative.

2. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) "The Author To Her Book"
The first woman poet to be published from Puritan America, this poem uses the metaphor of a mother child relationship to depict her struggle to raise her intellectual offspring. Could be nice introduction to early feminist writings for secondary 3 students.

3. Roald Dahl (1916-1990) "Television"
This fun poem from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is especially pertinent in times where addiction to technology is a growing concern.

4. Wordsworth (1770- 1850) "The Solitary Reaper"
Not the greatest fan of this nature guy myself, but any study of poetry is incomplete without him. This lyric encapsulates the ethos of the Romantics and is a short representative poem of the age.

5. Tennyson ( 1809-1892) "Ulysses"
A good example of the dramatic monologue, this poem can be used not just for its lofty theme but also to teach how literary devices like enjambment contribute to the tone of the poem. May come in handy for the sec 4 class.

6. William Ernest Henley (1849- 1903) "Invictus"
Its powerful message of self mastery inspired both Mandela and Leonard Cohen. Quoted or perhaps, misquoted in classics like Casablanca, this poem is a MUST READ!

7. Ted Hughes (1930-1998) "The Jaguar"
(could not find a link, so here's the poem)
The Jaguar

The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.

The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut

Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.

Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

Lie still as the sun. The boa-constrictor’s coil

Is a fossil. Cage after cage seems empty, or

Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.

It might be painted on a nursery wall.

But who runs like the rest past these arrives

At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,

As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged

Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

On a short fierce fuse. Not in boredom—

The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,

By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear—

He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him

More than to the visionary his cell:

His stride is wildernesses of freedom:

The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.

Over the cage floor the horizons come.

Ted Hughes

Was a tough call to choose between the man and his wife (could not accommodate both in the top ten), but I chose the former for he may be a trifle more accessible to Secondary students. A good example of the various levels of interpretation this poems celebrates vitality and ferocity.

8. John Donne (1572 - 1631) "Death Be Not Proud"

Students should definitely have a peek into metaphysical poetry in school but I'd rather choose Donne's religious poetry for this purpose at the secondary level for starters.

9. Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967) "Mother To Son"

This African American Poet's work could be used to explain a common problem Literature students grapple with: The difference between poet and persona. Furthermore, the poem is a good case in point to teach symbolism in poetry.

10. Carol Ann Duffy (b. 1955) "Valentine"

This poem figures in the list to dispel myths in young minds about poets being dead and distant. The first woman poet laureate of Britain (2009), Duffy has written on serious issues but I choose this simple poem to show how she subverts stereotypes and plays with conventional notions of love.

1 comment:

  1. This is completely unrelated but I cannot resist saying this: India just won the match. A thrilling one to say the least.