I’m not a poetry expert, but I know enough to pretend that I am, and it’s all my mother’s fault. When my sister and I were young, my mother took a poetry class that so enthralled her that she decided to torture us…I mean, broaden our horizons by passing along her knowledge to us. On the plus side, I was exposed to a lot of the poetry greats: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll, and Ogden Nash. My poetry education continued with my cousin, who introduced me to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner via the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, and my  English teacher, who taught me to dissect the meaning out of every word in Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Every once in awhile I come across a song that is so well written it’s poetic, and my latest discovery is Ed Sheeran’s The A Team. Even the chorus, especially the chorus, is a cascading sequence of rhymes that keep coming and coming, and I wondered as I listened to it the first time, how long can he keep up this rhyme scheme without forcing it? It’s hard to imagine him sitting around his computer or legal pad or guitar with a heavy thesaurus trying to come up with another word that rhymes with “team.” Maybe he did, but the final product is so polished, you can’t see the seams.


At the end of the week, we had to recite it, verbatim from memory, on top of the hearth in front of the fireplace that, roughly four inches off the ground, served as our stage. I didn’t do stages, even ones four inches off the ground with only my mother and my sister in the audience.
Thanks to all of these experiences, I feel that I’m almost a decent judge of what makes good poetry, either in the written form or in song lyrics.
Any time any children’s book author tries to rhyme the word “seven” in a counting book, the shoe horn comes out, prying in a word that doesn’t quite rhyme unless you completely mispronounce it, or forcing in an image with a word that does rhyme but makes no sense to anything else in the story. The rhymes keep flowing, the story keeps making sense, and he does what any great writer does: he makes it seem effortless. Accompanied by a simple acoustic guitar playing a beautiful melody doesn’t hurt either.
She could emote, inflect, and breathe life into even the most mundane of poems, using the fireplace poker as her microphone for added flair.


I’m not exactly sure what the girl in this song is into, but it’s definitely Class A and it’s about to kill her.
For me, there are too many pieces which grab hold of my heart, but there is one little poem, Fog by Carl Sandburg. A tiny, little, insignificant poem, but so very loved because it’s the first one my children learned to recite by heart.



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