Jesse's Reviews > Collected Poems for Children

Collected Poems for Children by Ted Hughes
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's review
Sep 07, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: him, them
Read in August, 2007

Hughes' poems for young people are arranged according to target age but well before you hit the halfway point you're in 9-99 territory. Even toward the front of the book, when you're dealing with the goofiest verse for the littlest tykes (see the selections from "Meet My Folks"), Hughes' work has far more heft than the "for Children" designation prompts the wizened reader to expect.
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message 1: by Wayne (last edited Feb 11, 2009 06:10PM) (new) - added it

Wayne I agree Jesse.
From one who has taught poetry to an array of ages amongst children, I felt a bit conned when I started this and have laid it aside.
However children can definitely respond to just the rhythm of verse without comprehending a word. I've read verse to babies and they LOVE the rhythm...and rhyme. I've sent kids home with poetry anthologies to select a poem they like and might want to share with the class. One came back with Blake's "Tiger, tiger, burning bright," and said with a little embarrassment that they couldn't really understand it, but liked it. Well, I knew exactly what they meant, and could reassure them, because I had listened to my older sister recite this poem to me at 8 years and thought it magical, which always incorporates mystery,and thus the desire and the curiosity to work at unlocking the meaning.
Another had chosen the witches' incantation from "Macbeth",and could grasp the overall gist of it. So - levels of understanding.
But it's also nice to read a poem with total comprehension eg. Milne's book, "When We Were Very Young" which my sister and I read over and over and over, I guess because we understood EVERYTHING... well, almost.We only knew "an alderney" was a cow from the illustrations!!!
Later, as teenagers, we sat on the beach on a summer holiday pouring over a recent Xmas present my sister had received, a hefty volume of Tennyson's Complete Works, probably because Milne and Blake had taught us to expect treasures from poetry.(Tennyson did not disappoint!!!)
Children need to be exposed to ALL levels, and shown that sometimes full understanding comes with time, and to enjoy just the rhytmn or the bits that appeal. We love people despite never fully comprehending them, so why exclude poetry!!!

Perhaps Hughes could write no other kind of verse for kids.So why deprive the children of the talent of such a great poet just because he couldn't write like Milne.
So thanks,Jesse. I've just convinced myself to get over the "conned" feeling and enjoy whatever Hughes has served up.
By the way , have you tried his poems titled:
"Crow:From the Life and Songs of the Crow.
For adults and amazing stuff. I can't understand them but...
Happy Reading from Wayne ,Sydney Australia.

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