Can you recommend any elocution poems or extracts for 3 minute recitation for 11 and 13 year olds in school. thanks.
At middle scool age, I've found students tend to prefer ballads or tales when choosing poetry recital pieces. The subject matter is varied enough for them to select something of interest and the material is generally easy enough for them to comprehend.
Two poems that have worked well are "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, and "Casey At The Bat" by Ernest L. Thayer. Both are rhyming poems with consistent meter, and they are suspenseful and dramatic, offering the opportunity for students to demonstrate their elocution skills.
Robert Service or Rudyard Kipling also have some interesting ballad types.
And, I have always enjoyed these two by Oliver Wendell Holmes:
Contentment - "Man wants but little here below"
Little I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A very plain brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own;
And close at hand is such a one,
In yonder street that fronts the sun.
Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
I always thought cold victual nice;
My choice would be vanilla-ice.
I care not much for gold or land;
Give me a mortgage here and there,
Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share,
I only ask that Fortune send
A little more than I shall spend.
Honors are silly toys, I know,
And titles are but empty names;
I would, perhaps, be Plenipo,
But only near St. James;
I'm very sure I should not care
To fill our Gubernator's chair.
Jewels are baubles; 't is a sin
To care for such unfruitful things;
One good-sized diamond in a pin,
Some, not so large, in rings,
A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
Will do for me; - I laugh at show.
My dame should dress in cheap attire;
(Good, heavy silks are never dear);
I own perhaps I might desire
Some shawls of true Cashmere,
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.
I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
An easy gait - two forty-five
Suits me; I do not care;
Perhaps, for just a single spurt,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.
Of pictures, I should like to own
Titians and Raphaels three or four,
I love so much their style and tone,
One Turner, and no more,
(A landscape, - foreground golden dirt,
The sunshine painted with a squirt.)
Of books but few, - some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;
Some little luxury there
Of red morocco's gilded gleam
And vellum rich as country cream.
Busts, cameos, gems, such things as these,
Which others often show for pride,
I value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;
One Stradivarius, I confess,
Two Meerschaums, I would fain possess.
Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn,
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
But all must be of buhl?
Give grasping pomp its double share,
I ask but one recumbent chair.
Thus humble let me live and die,
Nor long for Midas' golden touch;
If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them much,
Too grateful for the blessing lent
Of simple tastes and mind content!
The Height of the Ridiculous
I wrote some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
A sober man am I.
I called my servant, and he came;
How kind it was of him
To mind a slender man like me,
He of the mighty limb!
"These to the printer," I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added (as a trifling jest),
"There'll be the devil to pay."
He took the paper, and I watched,
And saw him peep within;
At the first line he read, his face
Was all upon the grin.
He read the next; the grin grew broad,
And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third; a chuckling noise
I now began to hear.
The fourth; he broke into a roar;
The fifth; his waist band split;
The sixth; He burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.
Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2005 11:53AM by Hugh Clary.
Two more suggestions - the smuggler's song for excitement, and lovely horse trotting rhythm to bring out in the chorus, and the de la Mare for mystery and because the rhyme scheme can be slightly tricky so it's good to show off you've can cope with it
The Smugglers Song by Rudyard Kipling
If You wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Trotting through the dark - Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine;
Don't you shout to come and look, nor take 'em for your play;
Put the brushwood back again, - and they'll be gone next day!
If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm - don't you ask no more!
If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you 'pretty maid,' and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!
Knocks and footsteps round the house - whistles after dark -
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie -
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!
If you do as you've been told, likely there's a chance
You'll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood -
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie -
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
The Listeners by Walter de la Mare
"Is anybody there?" said the Traveler,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence chomped the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor.
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the traveler's head:
And he smote upon the door a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveler;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his gray eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveler's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Aye, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
Many of the Australian poets lend themselves to this sort of assignment.
Here's a sample:
The Blue Mountains
By Henry Lawson
Above the ashes straight and tall,
Through ferns with moisture dripping,
I climb beneath the sandstone wall,
My feet on mosses slipping.
Like ramparts round the valley's edge
The tinted cliffs are standing,
With many a broken wall and ledge,
And many a rocky landing.
And round about their rugged feet
Deep ferny dells are hidden
In shadowed depths, whence dust and heat
Are banished and forbidden.
The stream that, crooning to itself,
Comes down a tireless rover,
Flows calmly to the rocky shelf,
And there leaps bravely over.
Now pouring down, now lost in spray
When mountain breezes sally,
The water strikes the rock midway,
And leaps into the valley.
Now in the west the colours change,
The blue with crimson blending;
Behind the far Dividing Range,
The sun is fast descending.
And mellowed day comes o'er the place,
And softens ragged edges;
The rising moon's great placid face
Looks gravely o'er the ledges.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2005 01:00PM by lg.
As an Australian I obviously agree with Les, many of our poets provided excellent ballads and narratives for recitation. Indeed much of their work was I believe designed for this purpose. AB (Banjo) Paterson's poems, The Bush Christening, Mulga Bill's Bicycle, The Man From Snowy River, The Man From Ironbark, Lost and The Droving Days spring immediately to mind as being suitable for recitation by the age group you mention and are still widely taught in Australian schools.
Henry Lawson (as mentoned by Les,) CJ Dennis, Will Ogilvie and Henry Kendall are also excellent providers of the type of material you are looking for and what is more the children will really love some of these stories.