Poems for Finn

I've written on here before about how we recite poems to Finn to help him fall asleep.  It's been a sweet part of parenting--our voices really seem to soothe him, and in the middle of the night, it's nice to have some words readily at hand without having to read from a book, words that have been crafted with attention to their sound and rhythm. Of course, we like the idea of these words filling his little being, even if it may be years before any understanding sets in, and the added bonus is that with memorization, these words are filling our beings as well. So here's a list of what we've memorized so far:

From Blossoms, by Li-Young Lee

Maybe, by Mary Oliver

Happiness, by Jane Kenyon

Birches, by Robert Frost

Psalm 23

Psalm 139

 Anyone out there have recommendations for us? We're always looking for more good poems.  Can't be too long, needs to have beautiful language and say something true.  Thanks!


Sonja Likumahuwa said...

I'm a big fan of this Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, called "Spring and Fall, to a Young Child". It's really lyrical (kind of a tongue-twister in parts, which I think is fun, even though it's a serious subject). --Sonja

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

DeAne said...

How 'bout some hymns? Children of the Heavenly Father works well for bed time despite its realism about death. With your request in mind, I have reason to sit on the floor reading poetry books in search of a likely candidate for reciting to a baby. Thanks for the call.


DeAne said...

Here is a sort of obvious choice, given your current residence and in view of your most recent posting about how Chinese-like idioms are creeping into your language. This has long been a favorite of mine for its expression of the transformative wonder of trying to (and sometimes managing to) go a new place or learn a new thing. Also I like the way it evokes that Greg Brown song in which he repeats the word China several times. DeAne

from The Poems of Richard Wilbur (Harvest).

Digging for China

"Far enough down is China," somebody said.
"Dig deep enough and you might see the sky
As clear as at the bottom of a well.
Except it would be real--a different sky.
Then you could burrow down until you came
To China! Oh, it's nothing like New Jersey.
There's people, trees, and houses, and all that,
But much, much different. Nothing looks the same."

I went and got the trowel out of the shed
And sweated like a coolie all that morning,
Digging a hole beside the licac-bush,
Down on my hands and knees. It was a sort
Of praying, I suspect. I watched my hand
Dig deep and darker, and I tried and tried
To dream a place where nothing was the same.
The trowel never did break through to blue.

Before the dream could weary of itself
My eyes were tired of looking into darkness,
My sunbaked head of hanging down a hole.
I stood up in a place I had forgotten,
Blinking and staggering while the earth went round
And showed me silver barns, the fields dozing
In palls of brightness, patens growing and gone
In the tides of leaves, and the whole sky china blue.
Until I got my balance back again
All that I saw was China, China, China.

Monte said...

Good suggestions, guys! I'll put them on my list. I love the Hopkins poem, and I'd never read the China one before--thanks for the introduction. I do read (and sing) hymns to Finn, in fact, the hymnal has stayed in his room that last few months. I think I started during Advent--since we weren't going to any Advent services, I just sang my way through that section as he was going down for naps.

hsuan said...

Hi dear Monte - happy new years. Enjoy all the sights and smells. I like the idea of memorizing poetry. It's something I'd like to work on, even if I don't have a baby to sing to, for now at least. So Here's a good one that I think is perfect. With love.


Fairy Tales
by Shu Ting

You believed in your own story,
then climbed inside it-
a turqoise flower,
You gazed past ailing trees,
past crumbling walls and rusty railings.
Your least gesture beckoned a constellation
of wild vetch, grasshoppers, and stars
to sweep you into immaculate distances.

The heart may be tiny
but the world's enormous.

And the people in turn believe-
in pine trees after rain,
ten thousand tiny suns, a mulberry branch
bent over water like a fishing rod,
a cloud tangled in the tail of a kite.
Shaking off dust, in silver voices
ten thousand memories sing from your dream.

The world may be tiny
but the heart's enormous

hsuan said...

Sorry - I had to post one more - a number from Coney Island of the Mind, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Can't beat the Beats. Love much, hh.


Jeff Forster said...

What about Ice, Ice Baby by a certain "lyrical poet"?

Yo VIP let's kick it

Ice ice baby (x2)
All right stop collaborate and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it ever stop yo I don't know
Turn off the lights and I'll glow
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle
Dance go rush to the speaker that booms
I'm killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom
Deadly when I play a dope melody
Anything less than the best is a felony
Love it or leave it you better gain weight
You better hit bull's eye the kid don't play
If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ice ice baby vanillla (x4)

Now that the party is jumping
With the bass kicked in and the vegas are pumpin'
Quick to the point to the point no faking
I'm cooking MC's like a pound of bacon
Burning them if you ain't quick and nimble
I go crazy when I hear a cymbal
And a hi-hat with a souped up tempo
I'm on a roll and it's time to go solo
Rollin' in my 5.0
With my rag-top down so my hair can blow
The girlies on standby waving just to say hi
Did you stop no I just drove by
Kept on pursuing to the next stop
I busted a left and I'm heading to the next block
The block was dead
Yo so I continued to A1A Beachfront Avenue
Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis
Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis
Jealous 'cause I'm out getting mine
Shay with a guage and Vanilla with a nine
Reading for the chumps on the wall
The chumps acting ill because they're so full of eight balls
Gunshots rang out like a bell
I grabbed my nine all I heard were shells
Falling on the concrete real fast
Jumped in my car slammed on the gas
Bumpet to bumper the avenue's packed
I'm trying to get away before the jackers jack
Police on the scene you know what I mean
They passed me up confronted all the dope fiends
If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it


Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical poet
Miami's on the scene just in case you didn't know it
My town that created all the bass sound
Enough to shake and kick holes in the ground
'Cause my style's like a chemical spill
Feasible rhymes that you can vision and feel
Conducted and formed
This is a hell of a concept
We make it hype and you want to step with this
Shay plays on the fade slice like a ninja
Cut like a razor blade so fast other DJs say damn
If my rhyme was a drug I'd sell it by the gram
Keep my composure when it's time to get loose
Magnetized by the mic while I kick my juice
If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while Shay revolves it

Ice ice baby vanilla
Ice ice baby (oh-oh) vanilla
Ice ice baby vanilla
Ice ice baby vanilla ice
Yo man let's get out of here
Word to your mother
Ice ice baby too cold
Ice ice baby too cold too cold (x2)
Ice ice baby

foodsmith said...

Oh my goodness, Jeff ... please tell me you had to cut and paste those lyrics. I was shocked, however, that as I started to do my best Vanilla Ice imitation, Matt knew the words for the first verse and then got lost somewhere in the second. amazing.