I am a Middle School teacher looking for an accessible poem to read as we study "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- specifically, something that would contain the theme of the corruption of innocence. Not so much the loss of a child’s innocence, but more the theme relating to the idea that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” or evil penetrating something harmless and good.
The class reads, writes, and thinks at about an 11th grade level, anyone have any good ideas?
Here are two that I found while doing some research for an article I'm writing about a local poet. I especially liked the last verse of the first poem by Sylvia Chidi.
Innocence! (by Sylvia Chidi)
He spoke once before
He rigged of in pleasant odours
He displayed with his first step on the dance floor
What was next or what was following!
When he bellowed, he bellowed
And his silence too was without pretence
Now knowledge has made its entrance
Gradually exhibiting its presence
And his innocence
Has dissolved into a distasteful fragrance
Copyright 2006 - Sylvia Chidi
LOST INNOCENCE by Rick Doran
Who could believe that within such a flower ...
there could be such danger,
who could believe that within such trust ...
there could be such terror,
who could believe that within such care ...
there could be such hurt,
who could believe that within such softness ...
there could be so much hard,
who could believe that within such love ...
there could be so much confusion,
who could believe ?
We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Thank you Joe and Johnnyboy...I like all of the ideas. The one by Rick Doran seems like it would fit the bill quite nicely. There is certainly the theme in that story that goodness and evil often co-exist in all of us.
Of course, I always welcome more...
Aaron, there's this classic, which fits your theme:
My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning
That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
"Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
"Must never hope to reproduce the faint
"Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart how shall I say? too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men good! but thanked
Somehow I know not how as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech which I have not to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
"Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
"Or there exceed the mark" and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,
E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
For a commentary explaining the historical background, see:
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/06/2009 03:10AM by IanAKB.
You could compare the Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake to demonstrate how a child's loss of innocence is inevitable in adulthood, and how corruption to this innocence is caused by institutions, authoriry and industrialisation and also loss of nature.
Hope this helps.
I'm probably too late with this, but thought someone might enjoy it anyway. The poem is by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994).
the mockingbird had been following the cat
mocking mocking mocking
teasing and cocksure;
the cat crawled under rockers on porches
and said something angry to the mockingbird
which I didn't understand.
yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway
with the mockingbird alive in its mouth,
wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping,
feathers parted like a woman's legs,
and the bird was no longer mocking,
it was asking, it was praying
but the cat
striding down through centuries
would not listen.
I saw it crawl under a yellow car
with the bird
to bargain it to another place.
summer was over.