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History of Children’s Literature - EDU12HCL Week 6 Lecture 2. Children’s Poetry. Of all the things I wish I were I wish I were a sparra …. © La Trobe University, David Beagley, 2005. References.

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History of Children’s Literature - EDU12HCLWeek 6 Lecture 2

Children’s Poetry

Of all the things I wish I were

I wish I were a sparra …

© La Trobe University, David Beagley, 2005


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References

Hunt, P. (ed.) (2004) International Companion Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, London: RoutledgeChap.20: Iona Opie - “Playground Rhymes and oral tradition”Chap. 21: Andy Arleo - “Children’s rhymes and folklore”Chap. 30: Morag Styles - “Poetry”

Lurie, A. (1990) Don’t tell the Grown-ups: subversive children’s literature. London: BloomsburyChap. 16: The folklore of childhood

Turner, I. (1976) Cinderella dressed in yella, New York: Taplinger

Factor, J. (1985) Far out, brussel sprout! Australian children’s chants and rhymes. Melbourne: Oxford University Press(also All right, Vegemite! and You beaut, Juicy Fruit!)

Many works by Peter & Iona Opie on folklore, games and nursery rhymes


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What is poetry?

What is it about poetry that causes such strong reactions to its literary concept?

Two streams of creation:

  • Poetry written FOR children

  • Rhymes and games created BY children


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What is poetry?

Form and structure

  • Physical arrangement of the words:

  • Sound: rhyme, alliteration, assonance, contrast, onomatopoeia (& free/blank verse - their absence)

  • Rhythm: beat, metre

  • Number: haiku, cinquain, sonnet, limerick

  • Visual: acrostic, shape


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What is poetry?

Literary devices

  • Metaphor - using prior knowledge of one thing or idea to describe another:

  • Metaphor - it is …

  • Simile - it is like … (similar)

  • Allusion - it is related/connected/suggests …


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What is poetry?

A deliberate and controlled construction,

aiming to utilise these techniques

to enhance and intensify

the standard use of words

to communicate ideas, emotions, experiences and observations

Trying to say as much as possible in the least possible words


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Poetry by children

Rhymes and games created BY children

  • Not necessarily written – created, adapted, copied, parodied, handed around in oral folklore tradition

  • Use song and short forms, strong on traditional rhyme and rhythm to go with games and chanting

  • Little subtlety, or complex structure

  • Irreverence and parody are often key elements, though as much of the adult world as the child’s.


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Poetry by children

Key aspects:

  • Play

  • Social interaction

  • Irreverence and parody

  • Exploration


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Poetry by children

The poetry of play:

  • Choosing and counting rhymes

  • Rhythmic guides – skipping, clapping, dancing

  • Word games : tongue twisters, puns, riddles

  • Socialising: grouping, naming, role playing

  • Thus, strong emphasis on rhythm, beat and repetition

  • Sound is important: alliteration, onomatopoeia, chanting and group interplay


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Poetry by children

The poetry of play:

  • Topics for the word play: mimicking the adult world

  • from childish misinterpretation through conscious exaggeration to targeted parody – keen sense of the ridiculous

  • Pushing the boundaries of the acceptable – exploring the thrills of the naughty

  • Establishing hierarchies and roles within the play group – in and out


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Poetry by adults

Poetry written FOR children

  • Written by adults

  • Thus, utilises adult structures and forms

  • Thus, presents adult perceptions of the child’s world – what it is and what they think it should be

  • Verse novels, narratives, descriptions

  • Sophisticated structures – metaphor, allusion, formal structures such as free verse, complex rhyme and rhythm patterns


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Poetry by adults

Key aspects:

  • Education – the didactic need

  • Art – the formal creation

  • Cultural transmission

  • Mediation in anthologies

  • For children, about children, about childhood

  • Judgement


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

17th century: Saving the Soul of the Sinful Child

  • Puritan idea that literature should save children’s souls by admonishing them to good

  • Thus didactic and severe literature: morals, fables, lessons, hymns through 17th-18th centuries

  • 1686 – John Bunyan – Divine emblems, Country rhimes for children

  • 1715 - Isaac Watts - Divine Songs attempted in easy verse for children

  • 1763 - Charles Wesley - Hymns for childrenHark the Herald Angels sing, Gentle Jesus meek and mild


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

18th century: Chap and cheap, sensational and sold

  • 1650 – Mother Goose appears as Rhymes of the Nursery, or Lulla-byes for children

  • Through 1700s – jokes, ballads, heroic tales, rhymes and parodies in popular chapbooks

  • Often cheap doggerel, current and sensational, reflecting the play and street rhymes

  • 1744 – Newbery - Little Pretty Pocket Book, 1766 Goody Two Shoes bringing the two traditions (education & entertainment) together


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

19th century: Children are a world of their own

  • 1789 – William Blake - Songs of Innocence and ExperienceRepresents children and childhood as innocent, not sinful

  • 1804 - Ann and Jane Taylor – Original poems for infant mindsTwinkle, twinkle little star/How I wonder what you are

  • 1807 – William Roscoe - The Butterfly’s Ball and Grasshopper’s Feast

  • 1805 – Sarah Martin – The Comic adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and her dog

  • 1826 – Felicia Hemans – CasabiancaThe boy stood on the burning deck …

  • 1834 – Sara Coleridge – Pretty lessons in verse for good children

  • 1834 – Mary Howitt - Sketches in Natural HistoryWill you come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

Mid 19th century: Cradle songs and Mothering

  • 1872 - Christina Rossetti - Sing Song – lullabies and cooing “love” poems

  • The poetry is as much for the mother as the child - infant mortality rates, female role assertion etc.

  • Often follow nursery rhyme patterns in simple forms, emphasis on sound and rhyme, brevity, etc.

  • Nursery rhymes are composed poetry and often have a teaching aspect - number, sound, motor co-ordination – used by adults to children

  • Yet, they have been “appropriated” by children into the folklore of play


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

Mid 19th century: What Nonsense!!

  • 1846 – Edward Lear – A book of nonsense and (1871) Nonsense Songs

  • 1865 – Lewis Carroll – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and (1871) Through the looking glass

  • Word play, irreverence, parody, twisted meanings, exaggeration, all the things that children put into their own play and rhyming


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

Late 19th century: What a Problem!!

Didactic Education + Childish Exaggeration =

Cautionary Verse

  • 1845 – Heinrich Hoffman - Struwwelpeter

  • 1896 – Hillaire Belloc – The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, (1897) More Beasts for Worse Children, (1907) Cautionary Tales for Children

  • Tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top, extreme, even violent humour


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

Early 20th century: The child’s view of life

  • 1924 – AA Milne – When we were very young, (1927) Now we are six

  • Simplicity, word play, explore identity

  • Adults only present on the periphery of life, setting boundaries


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Poetry by adults – a history in stages

Later 20th century: Pick and choose

  • Life: Ogden Nash, Ted Hughes, Michael Rosen, Allen Ahlberg

  • Nonsense: Dr Suess, Spike Milligan, John Scieska

  • Cautionary: Roald Dahl, Doug MacLeod

  • Nursery rhyme: Pamela Allen, Elizabeth Honey, Lynley Dodd

  • Verse novels – Steven Herrick, Margaret Wild – Jinx, Sharon Creech – Love that dog


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