March 30, 2004

Do you like Kipling?

I wouldn't know, I've never kippled.

Now that is an old joke, yep.

Yesterday the kids kippled. As they came into the classroom I gleefully announced that it was Poetry Day, to which most of them replied "cool." I then handed out sheets with Kipling's "The Widow's Party" on one side and "White Man's Burden" on the other.

Partway through the class we stopped to talk about Kipling - I used him as a window into imperialist ideology.

Interestingly, the first section thought WMB was parody it was so over the top. The second thought it was straight. I gave them the poem very differently - for the first I reviewed the US role in the Philippines as they read, for the second I had them read the poem out loud.

I am always amused at the way that presentation shapes interpretation, and I struggle to present my materials to the kids in a way that is fair to the materials and useful for the class plan.

I do like Kipling. Much of his stuff is occasional poetry, like "Our Lady of the Snows" and much of it is doggerel, but good doggerel and good occasional poetry are hard to write. More, Kipling is deeply bounded in place and mind and that makes him a fine window into the Edwardian age. I like authors who are bound in time for they are easier to use to do history.

Posted by Red Ted at March 30, 2004 07:05 AM | TrackBack