While doing a bit of research for an upcoming presentation on introducing poetry to children, I ambled over to Ambleside Online to view all in one place what Miss Mason says on the subject. I stopped short when I read:
I saw it stated the other day that children do not care for poetry, that a stirring narrative in verse is much more to their taste. They do like the tale, no doubt, but poetry appeals to them on other grounds, and Shelley's Skylark will hold a child entranced sooner than any moving anecdote. v. 3 p. 121
My boys do enjoy poetry and Max can often be found reading a book of verse during his free reading time, but what Miss Mason means by "Skylark" is Percy Bysshe Shelley's To a Skylark. Not just any poem, this is 21 quintain stanzas - that is 105 lines of pure poetic thought. "Could this really hold a child entranced?" I thought to myself, "Could it hold my child entranced? Really, Miss Mason?"
Intrigued, I scooted into the kitchen with a copy where the boys were having a snack and began to read. Immediately taken in, by the seventh stanza they had moved their bar stools next to me.
What thou art we know not:,
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
By the 15th, they had clambered up their stools, holding my arms for balance, to follow along with me.
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?
Miss Mason was right once again, and so, I will fully trust her when she goes on to state that the youth who carries about with him such melodious cadences will not readily be taken with tinsel. vol. 5.