Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Poem for Dream Day

Somewhere I read that today is officially National Dream Day! Here is one of my favorite “dream” poems (in addition to all the wonderful “dream” poems by Langston Hughes, another favorite). It’s by the Japanese poet Michio Mado from an older collection, The Animals, illustrated with delicate papercut images by award-winning artist Mitsumasa Anno and translated into English by the Empress Michiko of Japan, herself a poet.

by Michio Mado

At night,
When quietly
The two tiny windows of my body
Lower their blinds,

The two tiny windows
Of all creatures of all kinds,
Living in the sky,
The sea, and on land,
Lower their blinds, too.

So as not to cause
A single dream

To be mixed
With any other.

From: Mado, Michio. 1992. The Animals: Selected Poems. New York: Margaret K. McElderry.

Isn’t that strange and wonderful to imagine? All the world’s creatures dreaming different dreams…

Each poem in the book appears in both Japanese and English, making it an excellent example of bilingual poetry. Since both the English and the Japanese versions of the poem are presented, it is possible to experiment with reading the lines as if they were written for two voices. Find a guest speaker able to read Japanese. The guest can read the poem in Japanese, followed by a second volunteer reading in English. Then BOTH readers read their versions simultaneously, in both Japanese and English. Just be sure to encourage the readers to pause at the end of each line and start the next line together. It may take a bit of practice, but it can be quite a powerful listening and language experience. Children who speak a language other than English may want to try translating one of their favorite English poems and orchestrating a read aloud in both their languages.

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