Friday, September 1, 2017

But the Home Can Do Even More in This Direction

       The school, however, is not the only place where children are educated. The home, the father and mother, must bear the greater share in the difficult task. And in this matter, of making girls and boys love poetry by reading it aloud to them, habitually, as a natural part of their everyday lives, the saying of Horace, "If you wish to make me weep, you must first have wept yourself," applies to the parents of the boys and girls. If you wish to make your children read and love poetry, you must first read and love poetry yourself. This is, of course, not true in the cases of children who are born with an unusual love for poetry, which they will satisfy regardless of parental influence; but it is true in the case of the average child. The mother, father, aunt, uncle, or guardian of the child, who reads poetry aloud in the family with affection and understanding, will probably find the child growing up, either a lover of poetry, or, at least, an intelligent critic of it. For whether one care intensely for poetry or not, it is so high and beautiful an interpretation of life that any one who knows nothing of it must always remain uncultivated, only partially educated. In the case of the child who has some natural love for poetry, there will be no difficulty in developing that love, if the proper means be taken. In the case of the child who has not that love, who prefers practical pursuits or outdoor play, the process is both difficult and dangerous. For if too much pressure is brought to bear, the child will feel like a victim, and dislike the sound of a poem all his life.
       A father told me that he had suggested in vain to his twelve-year-old son that he read some poetry. The boy scorned the idea as "silly," and said that "poetry was for girls." So his father let him alone, putting meanwhile into his bookcase Scott's poems, Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses," "The Vision of Sir Launfal," and other carefully-chosen books of poetry. One day the boy, half idly, while looking for something to read, opened "The Lady of the Lake." His father found him absorbed, lost to the world, and when the poem was finished the boy said, "It's a great story, and besides, it makes me feel how much I like my camp on the lake." 

 A Camp Poem

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