Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why Poetry?

I'm guest-posting today over at Afterthoughts as part of her "31 Days of Charlotte Mason" series on one of my favorite topics: Why Poetry?  A sneak peek:

To be sure, there are many practical reasons to read poetry.  It teaches an ear for language.  It models brevity in writing.  It prepares one well for more sophisticated reading.  It is the mark of an educated person in many intellectual circles.  It gives one a sense for diction and rhythm.  It aids in understanding the many cultural references that draw on the classics.  It provides a sense for metaphor in writing.  It helps with public speaking.  It sharpens the powers of observation.  It exercises the memory.  And so on.

But as usual, Miss Mason doesn't advocate studying content just for skills.  She believes in the content itself, in the ideas that are contained there.  Poetry for poetry's sake.

"People employ themselves about Knowledge, about Mathematics, Poetry, History, in a feverish, eager way, not at all for the love of these things, but for the sake of prize or place, some reward bestowed on Emulation. But Knowledge has her own prizes, and these she reserves for her lovers. It is only in so far as Knowledge is dear to us and delights us for herself that she yields us lifelong joy and contentment. He who delights in her, not for the sake of showing off, and not for the sake of excelling others, but just because she is so worthy to be loved, cannot be unhappy." (Vol. 4, p. 78-9)

So if not for the practical reasons above, why should children study poetry at all?

Go read the rest over there!

(And if you're interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason education, her series is a great place to start.  You can see the full line-up of topics here.)


  1. Thank you again for the article--I just love what you said. It helps that the PR articles you linked are some of my faves. :)

    1. Thank you, Brandy! It was a pleasure to add to the wonderful collection of posts going up at your place this month. And I have such a soft spot for PR articles. I have found such helpful perspectives there and a lot of encouragement. I'm so thankful for the typists working to get those online! Those volumes are a treasure--the CM-friendly blog posts of their day. :)

  2. Celeste, that was a wonderful discussion on the value of poetry in our lives! Thank you. We've been memorizing poetry in our homeschool from the beginning, but only last year I starting making a concerted effort to include poetry readings in our days as well. I grew up with almost no exposure to poetry, so I think it took some time for me to get comfortable enough with it that I could consider it a reasonable thing to read on a regular basis! I've even started reading poetry on my own as well. I sometimes think that one of my favorite parts of a CM education is what it does for me and my intellectual growth!

    I was excited to see Brandy's note about you being a Catholic CM'er - I am too, and I often feel like we are few and far between. I'm also in northern CA. I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, about an hour out of Sacramento.

    I'm glad you participated in Brandy's series, it is nice to "meet" you!

    1. Hi Amber! Nice to meet you too! Thanks so much for your kind comments. I too grew up with pretty much no exposure to poetry at all, but I fell in love with it in college and have enjoyed sharing it with my kids and reading it myself. I know what you mean about learning alongside your children--that is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling as well. I think CM-style learning makes for such a rich lifestyle for the whole family. My two oldest are only in second grade and even in the studies from these early elementary years, I have encountered an embarrassing amount of nature study, history, and literature that I knew nothing about. ;)

      And I always love chatting with fellow Catholic Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. I only know two in person, actually! Though I'm thankful to at least feel like I know many more online. :) We live in the San Jose area, but we lived up in the Sacramento area when I was in school at Davis, and have almost moved back to there twice for job opportunities for my husband. For now, we're still here. :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

    2. I went to Davis too! I was a history major there in the mid to late 90's. I grew up in the Bay Area (East Bay) and spent some time living in the San Jose area too. I'm a convert as well, although I converted after I married and my husband hasn't converted. I haven't ever met a Catholic Charlotte Mason homeschooler in person. Or, come to think of it, any Charlotte Mason homeschoolers in person! Thank goodness for the online communities out there, because without them it would be so much more difficult (perhaps even impossible!).

      And I completely understand what you mean about all that we can learn alongside our children. I went for a little walk (waddle? Walking is so ungainly at 35 weeks pregnant) and found an owl pellet. I'm not sure I would have known what that was before homeschooling, and I'm quite certain I wouldn't have picked it up and brought it home!! But it made for a fun, impromptu nature study with the kids this afternoon. Now if I could just get them more interested in recording things in their nature journals... that's one of the things I haven't managed to get going well in our homeschool, and I wish I could!

    3. I was in Davis from 2003-5 (MA in English), when my husband and I were newlyweds. :) We loved our time there.

      I checked out your blog but didn't see an email address--send me an email through my Blogger profile or through the sidebar of the blog (just under my picture-intro) and we can chat. :) I'm wondering if you're on the 4Real forums, and I also know that there are at least a few AO-using families in the Sacramento area...