In the opening verse of William Blake’s poem, Auguries of Innocence the poet describes the fragile beauty and balance found in Nature but, to my mind, Blake also expresses, inadvertently, the role of a poet.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
So, how does poetry stimulate intellect of children?
These lines suggests that poetry has the ability to reveal a depth of feeling and experience in the articulation of everyday happenings and in the description of ordinary objects. Writing poetry, therefore, allows expression of thoughts on a subject, and reading poetry encourages connection and find meaning in experiences. As Wallace Stevens said, “the poet is the priest of the invisible” suggesting that the poet gives words and voice to deeper truths. Stated simply, poetry stimulates readers’ imagination and evokes feelings that may previously have not been put into words. Thus, poetry allows a new way to think about something and gives readers (especially in the case of rhyming poetry) the music and rhyme scheme to allow an expression of those thoughts in a way that allow the words to sing on the page.
Scientific studies have shown that when children have extensive exposure to well-written stories and poetry from birth, the pattern of language expressed in good children’s literature will embed itself into children’s developing language. It can then emerge both orally and later in writing when children learn the skills that allow them to record their thoughts and ideas. By reading poetry children will be introduced to new ways to say something. This is an intellectually stimulating activity.
Poets know how to play with words:
Poetry is one of the most powerful forms of writing because it takes the language we know and speak, and transforms it into something new. In poems words often do not sound the same or mean the same as when we speak it. The pattern of the sentences in a rhyming poem are new and melodious. It is truly another language exclusively for the writer and the reader. All this is stimulating to the intellect. Poets know how to play with words, change syntax and become the masters of figures of speech. Poetry arranges words in original and powerful ways and when children memorize poems, they are not only memorizing the skilled writing of master poets but are also building facts and knowledge in the recesses of their mind.
As my book It’s Time to Rhyme shows, poetry provides an opportunity to increase vocabulary, stimulate imagination and learn literary terms. The book explains the construction of many poetic forms, but it also introduces readers to tools like “onomatopoeia” (the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named, like “buzz” or “sizzle”) that children can use as a rhetorical device in their own compositions. Just as I have used similes to make descriptions more vivid, poets will use comparisons of one thing to another by using similes or metaphors.
It’s Time to Rhyme and other works of poetry provide an opportunity for language:
development. In fact, readers can learn poetic forms and write their own poems after reading this book. I present poems written in the form intended and share the structure of the form both visually and viscerally. For example, in the poem “Sonnet” I use an octave and a sestet that advances an idea, and write it in a ten-syllable metered line of short and long syllables which is Iambic pentameter. The metre is musical to the ear and readers will notice that many of the poems that are read aloud to children use iambic pentameter. In the example poems, which tend to be more light-hearted, readers see the forms reflected on the pages in fun and surprising ways. This discovery of the simple craft of poetic composition is also intellectually stimulating.
Poetry and my book of poems is a learning opportunity not just for poetic forms and literary terms, but also an introduction for readers to themes of family, home, love, friendship, and global diversity. It’s Time to Rhyme includes a variety of poems, from one on how to say ‘Hello’ in ten languages, to an ode on over a dozen mouth-watering varieties of cheese, and another on the words used to group animals. Reading the book and memorizing poems helps build vocabulary, develop new ways of expression, and learn the cadence and music in metre and rhyme. Memorization enables deep learning and that type of regular study builds critical thinking.
Poetry is guaranteed to stimulate the intellect.