National Poetry Month in April. Poster with handwritten lettering. Poetry Festival in the United States and Canada. Literary events and celebration. Greeting card, invitation, poster, banner or background. Vector

One thing I emphasize in my Advanced Writing classes is word choice, choosing the exact word to “get the job done’/convey the message one wants to send. Often the word choice (and the phrasing of those words) lends a poetic tone/sense to what the writer puts on paper.

One of my favorite illustrations of this concept is the following poem by David McCord, “Take Sky.”

“Take Sky”

“Now think of words. Take sky

And ask yourself just why–

Like sun, moon, star, and cloud–

It sounds so well out loud,

And pleases so the sight

When printed on black and white.

Take syllable and thimble:

The sound of them is nimble.

Take balsam, fir, and pine:

Your woodland smell and mine.

Take kindle, blaze, and flicker–

What lights the hearth fire quicker?

Take bucket, spring, and dip

Cold water to your lip.

Three words we fear but form:

Gale, twister, thunderstorm:

Others that simply shake

Are tremor, tremble, quake.

But granite, stone, and rock:

Too solid, they, to shock.

Put honey, bee, flower

With sunny, shade, and flower;

Put wild with bird and wing

Put bird with song and sing.

Aren’t paddle, trail, and camp

The cabin and the lamp?

Now look at words of rest–

Sleep, quiet, calm, and blest;

At words we learn in youth–

Grace, skill, ambitions, truth;

At words of lifelong need–

Faith, courage, strength, and deed;

Deep-rooted words that say

Love, hope, dream, yearn, and pray;

Light-hearted words–girl, boy,

Live, laugh, play, share, enjoy;

October, April, June–

Come late and gone too soon.

Remember, words are life;

Child, husband, mother, wife;

Remember, and I’m done:

Words taken one by one.

Are poems as they stand–

Shore, beacon, harbor, land;

Brook, river, mountain, vale,

Cow, rabbit, otter, quail;

Oak, apple, water, snow,

Wind, weather, flood and floe.

Like light across the lawn

Are morning, sea, and dawn;

Words of the green earth growing–

Seed, soil, and farmer sowing.

Like wind upon the mouth

Sad, summer, rain, and south.

Amen. Put not asunder

Man’s first word: wonder…wonder…

(Copyright@1962 by David McCord)


Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

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