Drama Links - Sade | Sophie Jewett, Langston Hughes

In intermediate Language Arts, Ontario students look at poetic devices like personification and metaphor for the poetry unit.  Now my experience has always been looking at a few teacher-generated examples on the board.  The wind howled in the night.  Her eyes were sparkling stars.  End of lesson.  Sure these are enough to understand the general idea. But why not use a few songs or poems to drive the message closer to home? (Excuse the pun ;)

I chose a song by Sade and two poems by Sophie Jewett and Langston Hughes all related to the theme of family and parenthood.  All three have beautiful metaphors invoking protection and guardianship at home and in the natural world. 

The Sweetest Gift by Sade
Quietly while you were asleep
The moon and I were talking
I asked that she'd always keep you protected

She promised you her light
That you so gracefully carry
You bring your light and shine like morning

And then the wind pulls the clouds across the moon
Your light fills the darkest room
And I can see the miracle
That keeps us from falling

She promised all the sweetest gifts
That only the heaven's could bestow
You bring your light and shine like morning

And as you so gracefully give
Her light as long as you live
I'll always remember this moment

To a Child by Sophie Jewett
The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;   
   Hearken the tale they told:   
How in some far-off place and year,   
   Before the world grew old,

I was a dreaming forest tree,
   You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
   Because the north wind stirred;

How, when the chiding gale was still,   
   When peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
   My dream with singing, dear.

To-night the self-same songs are sung   
   The first green forest heard;
My heart and the gray world grow young—
   To shelter you, my bird.

April Rain Song by Langston Hughes
Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.
I learned about the improv warm-up "I am a Tree" from a workshop visit by Larry Swartz in my J/I English class.  It was really fun to do.  Here's a video explaining the activity :)

You can have fun with the nature images and metaphors in Sade's song and these two poems using tableau in small groups:
  • Divide the class into small groups of 4 or 5.
  • Each group will choose one of the three texts.  Draw pictures or list images and metaphors in the song.
  • Play the "I am a Tree" tableau game to interpret the figurative and implicit messages of the song or poem.

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