Go Slow, Go Far


Nine years ago I was teaching first grade and I took to the practice of writing each of my students a poem for their birthday.  I didn’t believe in giving meaningless homework to first graders so instead I would give them tasks like: memorize their birthday poem—learn it by heart so that it lives there.  Then I had them recite their poem once a week on the day closest to when they were born.  All of the poems I wrote for those first graders were about seeds and about growing.  This particular poem was written for a little girl who desperately wanted to learn to read and was feeling bad that things weren’t moving as fast as she thought they should be.   It’s amazing how the poems I wrote for those first graders still teach me things today.   


In husk and shell a maple tree slept

Deep through winter, quiet and blessed.

She dreamed of swaying through morns and eves,

And standing with starlight draped over her leaves.


“I want to sprout,” the maple tree said,

And a good kindly ground hog over heard from his bed.

“In due time, dear seedling, for grace is not rushed.”

And he fell back to sleep, in the snow-dappled hush.


So the maple tree waited, impatient and weary,

And dozed off to sleep so as not to feel dreary.

One day the sky cried warm tears of joy

And springtime returned for each girl and boy.


The seedling arose, trembling and proud,

Reaching for heaven through rolling white clouds.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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