I was prepared to write about teaching Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac today, but the Poem of the Day (by e. e. cummings) on poetryfoundation.org seized my imagination immediately, so I've decided to share it instead.
We all know that not all poems, especially modern and contemporary ones, are lyrical. Not all poets have "an ear," and some who do, go for deliberately discordant aural effects. I often admire the ideas or images in such poems. I tend to enjoy William Carolos Williams's poems, for example, despite their sonic effects rather than because of them. A poem that engages my ear as well as my mind, however, makes my heart beat a little faster—usually before I've tuned my left brain to its contents—and when the images or ideas of such a poem also engage me immediately ("the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls") then I'm not going anywhere, not even back to my hero Aldo Leopold, until I've spent some time with the poem.
I'm always left a little stunned by the ways cummings uses line breaks, and in this slice of social commentary about the gentlewomen of Cambridge, delivered briefly with longish lines, the music almost overwhelms the content. Almost, I say, because I expect I'll be mulling over this closing image for a while: "…. the Cambridge ladies do not care, above / Cambridge if sometimes in its box of /sky lavender and cornerless, the /moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy." Click here to read the poem.