The simplicity of a moment is what makes poetry so appealing to children… even very young children. Children “get” the vitality and complexity of simple. It’s kind of like watching the joy of a child beginning to crawl or walk. There’s that one silent moment, suspended in space, before everything changes. You can see it in a child’s eyes. Today’s poem, THE WHITE HORSE, by 20th century English poet D.H Lawrence, gives us this suspended moment in words. What happens before and after the moment are nothing compared to that moment of silence that is other-worldly. Take this little walk with the poem’s youth…
THE WHITE HORSE by D.H. Lawrence
The youth walks up to the white horse, to put its halter on
and the horse looks at him in silence.
They are so silent they are in another world.
Read the poem with your children. At first, your children may be waiting for more; more information or more detail. Help your children fill in the blanks. Ask: Does the youth know the white horse? How do you know? Does the white horse know the youth? What is a halter (a rope or strap that fits around the head or neck of an animal, used to secure or lead it)? Why might the youth be putting a halter on the white horse (travel, work, fun)? Does the white horse feel safe with the youth? Does the youth feel safe with the white horse? Do they love each other? Has the youth haltered the white horse before? Many times? Why are they silent? Do they understand each other? Does this silent moment tell us that all is well? What does it mean to be in another world with each other? If the white horse could talk, what would he say?
Moments in time are easy for children to visualize. The youth gently puts the harness on the horse’s neck and the white horse looks at him in wonderful, beautiful, loving silence. If you have a horse, animal or pet… do your children have experience with these silent moments that are filled with understanding? Even a child with no experience with animals will be able to capture this silent moment. Something is about to happen, but it hasn’t happened yet. Our instincts as human beings are sometimes filled with activity and talk, but our experiences with nature and animals are often more silent. Enjoy the magical silence of this poetic moment. Maybe the next time you zipper or button a little coat, you can pause for a moment and talk about the beautiful silence of another world… in that moment that just happened.
LITERACY is all about the WORDS – Written, Spoken, Felt. Feel the words of D.H. Lawrences’s THE WHITE HORSE with your children today.