In more ways than one, this shortened week was a week of poetry. For me, it started with the re-discovery of a poem by William Blake on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In the poem, the author beautifully calls for an end to slavery through the dream of a young black child.
The Hill We Climb
Then on Wednesday, I, like everyone else, heard the power of Amanda Gorman’s words in her poem, The Hill We Climb, at the inauguration of Joe Biden. It is rather rare to see poetry showcased in general. The fact that it played a part on that day says a lot about the quasi-magical power with which it is imbued. This power unites us when division is tearing us apart and gives us hope during difficult times. It is during these moments, when we need strength, that we turn to poets, that we see in them someone who is able to inspire us to be better than we are.
Poetry at School
On Thursday, we showed the new Consul General of France in New York, Jérémie Robert, our school. During the visit, we went into one of the 6th Grade classes where students were working with Mr. Le Martelot on a poem by Arthur Rimbaud. A very interesting discussion ensued as, in his professional career, our Consul followed in the footsteps of Rimbaud in a certain way while on assignment in Ethiopia. He was able to visit the house of this genius, who dreamed so much of being rich that he became a trafficker of arms. Rimbaud died at 39, and today his words are part of our cultural heritage.
Finally, later on Thursday, Marion Sabat’s 3rd graders completed a really lovely project, also dedicated to poetry, in which they recited works by Jacques Prévert and Corinne Albaut. These poets help us remember that we are insignificant through Prévert’s image of a snowman who is cold, so he warms himself by the fire until he becomes a puddle of water, while Albaut reminds us that life mostly goes from happiness to happiness. Well done to the students and to Marion on this beautiful project. And of course, it was the perfect day to make the Concours d’écriture (Writing Contest) official! The Contest, which is organized by Mr. Le Martelot, will be a bilingual competition this year with the partnership of Ms. Millan. The format will be… poetry.
The Power of Poetry
We understand that a poem can serve different purposes. Sometimes under the guise of metaphors, it can transmit very powerful political messages. Through the beauty of its construction and the juxtaposition of its words, it can allow us to envision the possibility of a different—more fair and less cruel—world. It is also, for students, a lovely way to learn a language. It can allow them to grasp its nuances and to realize how many different ways we can use it to express ourselves, to play with the meanings of words and to make them our own.
Baudelaire said, “Any healthy man can go without food for two days, but not without poetry.” This week, to say the least, we feasted on it. Now we are ready and excited for the second half of the school year, on our way towards the spring of Rimbaud, who, a lover of freedom, called it the season ‘of the coming summer.’