Intellectual Culture - Poetry

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. - Goethe
Sir Gawain and The Green Knight from the original manuscript
Poetry takes up such a small amount of our day, yet the benefits are immeasurable. Charlotte Mason tells us that "It is the part of parents to bring the minds of their children under the influence of the highest, purest poetic thought we have." (Vol. 5, p. 224)  

Recently, my dd (14), finished reading Sir Gawain and the Green Night, a Middle English alliterative romance.  Her assignment was to write her own alliterative verse with a "bob and wheel" ending as modeled in Sir Gawain.  This is very much like an exam question given in a PNEU school. Here is her verse:

The castle though quiet
Was peaceful to the weary wanderer.
Lights were light with lightness,
And merry was the look to the modest man.
As he stepped in he saw a scene of joyful brilliance,
With feasting and dancing.
But as he watched, the scene withered in obscurity,
As if it were a figment of flight and fancy.
The man closed his eyes and looked again,
And this time as he opened his eyes it was all there again.
However like before it languished into nothingness.
The man was filled with fear and festinated out of the castle.
The night he slept in the cold,
And Fancied of a feast that loomed forth - but then expired,
As if to show the world that fear
                                       and joy
                               Together reign on earth.
                               And always will preserve;
                               Till Christ comes takes his birth,
                               Forever to reserve.

Mason gives poetry a very high ranking.  She has much to say about listening, reading, reading aloud, writing,  and reciting poetry.  When your students have grown up with this, it is so rewarding to see how the words, the figures of speech, the ideas have slowly become a part of who they are.
Poetry takes first rank as a means of intellectual culture. Goethe tells us that we ought to see a good picture, hear good music, and read some good poetry every day; and, certainly, a little poetry should form part of the evening lecture. "Collections" of poems are to be eschewed; but some one poet should have at least a year to himself, that he may have time to do what is in him towards cultivating the seeing eye, the hearing ear, the generous heart. - Mason, Vol. 5 p. 224
From joy to joy,


  1. I can't tell you how enriched and refreshed I have been since I got back in touch with poetry myself, and the girls truly love that part of their day.

    Thanks for the quote and reminder.

  2. Your daughter's verse if wonderful. I can't wait to read Sir Gawain myself if this is my introduction to it.

  3. Very beautiful. She has a gift for words.
    Luci Shaw wrote her children Wedding poems.
    We might have to think about that : you and me!

    Have you read Goethe?

  4. of course i agree heartily, my friend! thank you for sharing this!!

    amy in peru

  5. I have been carrying around my copy of Sir Gawain in my purse to reread. Your daughter's inspirational verse is begging me to open the treasure!

  6. Thanks Nancy, I am sure we have Sir Gawain somewhere in the house, you've inspired me to dig it out. Your daughter's composition is beautiful too!
    We have a neat little book which tells the story of Robin Hood in verse. One afternoon I pulled it out thinking I would read a chapter, but we enjoyed it so much we read the whole thing. I think it was by Ian Seraillier.