At the last meeting of the homeschool co-op, someone suggested using audiobooks on CD in the car to expose the kids to poetry. I thought that was a great idea of the "why didn't I think of that?!" variety -- they have had little patience for poetry as read-alouds, but they have loved classical music CDs in the car. I had an order almost ready to go at Rainbow Resources anyway; I immediately added A Child's Introduction to Poetry and sent in my order, and when the box arrived we put the disc in the car right away.
Success! The kids love it and have been reciting snippets of sonnets and haikus. I will be getting more poetry CDs for sure. It has been nice for me, too, to listen to recitations of famous poems, many of which I remember from high school English, while driving. When they come in through the auditory channel, it's really quite a different experience from reading them off the page, even reading them aloud. You're more of a passive receiver, rather than using your own voice to modulate and interpret the poem, and you have to receive the poem linearly instead of visually taking it all in at once, knowing which lines are long and which short, and when to expect the end. Dylan Thomas, Carl Sandburg, Robert Browning -- it's a nice collection, mostly of well-known favorites.
Listening to the recitation of Frost's "The Road Not Taken," I was reminded of my favorite rant about quotations out of context. By the time I got to tenth- or eleventh-grade English literature, I had read the famous quotation from this poem about eleventy-thousand times:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This quote is always, always, always used to support the thesis that the wiser, better man will take the "road less traveled." Have you ever seen a place where it is not used as an implication that the road less traveled is the one that leads to happiness? Something about being unconventional, I suppose. You will see people writing, for example, that the poem offers "good advice." That sort of thing.
I remember being really annoyed and angry at the quoters when I encountered the whole poem, finally. Because of course the poem as a whole implies nothing of the sort, offers no advice at all, contains no judgment about the relative merits of the two paths. The last stanza contains a whiff of mystery and not a little regret alluding to the consequences of the choice, but to me most of the regret is contained in the line "I could not travel both/And be one traveler."
It strikes me as a simple meditation on the tragedy of reality: that you can't experience everything. Listening to it again, maybe for the first time, in a purely audio format, I was even more strongly struck by it.
But I have always been irritated at the quoters who take the last three lines, not even the whole last stanza with its "sigh," and use it to imply the inherent superiority of the road less traveled. Hey, sometimes it's the right choice. Other times it's not. Logic, people.