Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Nobody Pets the Lion at the Zoo: A Poem by John Ciardi

My elementary students enjoyed the humorous poetry of John Ciardi. One of their favorite books was Ciardi's You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You, which was first published in 1962. Fortunately, the book is still in print today. This poetry collection has two tables of contents--one printed in black and one printed in blue--that come with the following directions: All the poems printed in black, you read to me. All the poems printed in blue, I’ll read to you.

I had several copies of You Read to Me, I'll Read to You in my classroom. Sometimes my students liked to sit with each other and share the poems. Sometimes they took the book home to read with their parents.

My students also liked two other poetry books written by John Ciardi: You Know Who (1964) and The Man Who Sang the Sillies (1961). All three books were illustrated by Edward Gorey.

Here is a poem from The Reason for the Pelican, another children's poetry book written by John Ciardi:

Why Nobody Pets the Lion at the Zoo
by John Ciardi

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
(If he’d been closer) have tried a bite.

I think that’s as it ought to be
And not as it was taught to me.

I think the Lion has a right
To growl a growl and bite a bite.

And if the Lion bothered Adam,
He should have growled right back at ’im.

The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Consolation, a poem written by Wislawa Szymborska.

Kelly has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Big A, little a.


Tricia said...

I like this poem. I'm interested to know how your students felt about Gorey's illustrations. William is not a big fan. I have to wonder if this is peculiar to the kid or if it's age-related. I do think his illustrations require a bit of sophistication to understand.

tanita✿davis said...

I have always wondered about Edward Gorey as a children's lit illustrator, too, but I do like the cover of the first one here especially, because of the way the title is written. And of course, I love the poem!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Tricia and Tadmack,

I'm not sure how my students felt about Gorey's illustrations. I can't recall ever talking about Gorey's pictures with them. I guess I was just focused on Ciardi's poetry.

Mary Lee said...

"can't trust his teeth."

LOVE that!

Anonymous said...

Love this poem. Haven't read it in a long time. I like it because it's funny, but it also has a kind of sad undertone to it. It says something about human nature that both kids and adults respond to.