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The Time Has Come: Poetry and Drama Use in the Geography Class

by
Joseph Aloysius Weber


Contents of Curriculum Unit 83.05.08:

To Guide Entry


Lewis Carroll’s walrus before feasting on the hesitant oysters says:

The time has come . . . .
to talk of many things:
of shoes—and ships—and
sealing wax
of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings . . . .

This excerpt from Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter”1 is a veritable geography lesson wrought in lines so fetching they etch themselves on the brain to remain always. He cites cabbage, a global food staple. Sealing wax speaks of precious documents that might have altered history’s course. Ships. Ah, ships: sextants, clashes, “Land Ho”, long wharves, migration. The walrus mentions shoes, a craft of the ages from mukluk to Nike. Kings, their glory and their mischief; the people must be organized. With the poet’s brilliance at compacting, Carroll has included “everything under the sun” in his lines. At greater length, seventh grade geography also covers “everything under the sun”; that is, in the eastern hemisphere. This study is organized around:

1. Learning the essential facts: For example, what borders the country? Is the river navigable? When was the nation founded? The major religion? What is the temperature range? Language? What is its elevation?
2. Skill development: interpreting maps, globes and charts. Reading social studies materials. Locating information. Understanding time and chronology.
3. Introduction of concepts: How are the nation’s resources used in its economy? What influence does the climate have on a region’s agriculture? What are the cultural characteristics?
These several examples from the curriculum reveal the practical content of geography. Its study makes a better-informed person. The study of geography, its words and ideas, leads to encounters with history, anthropology, political science, economics, and sociology. I would offer in this unit another fusing, that of geography study with a consistent use of poetry and drama. This linking will not only have the positive value of reinforcing the curriculum material, but it should nurture and fuel the student’s imagination.

I find that the stuff of geography is the stuff of poetry and drama. The geographer, the poet and the dramatist write of the same thing: people, and their lives in certain times and places. The geographer marshalls facts and presents them in systematic fashion; the poet offers images in unique language, frequently of personal and localized experience; the dramatist takes a time, a place, some people, and brews a conflict. I might even say that the first geographers were those long-ago story tellers who sang in poetic and dramatic cadences of the hunt, or the battle, or the sights of a wondrous, distant place. The “poet’s science” geography was called in a story related to me by Tom Whitaker. This phrase was used by a college English department chairperson in protesting the elimination of his Midwestern school’s geography department in an economy move. Poet’s science? What a strange idea? Or is it? The words of geography do name something in existence, something identifiable: but also, aren’t many of the words of the subject charged with mystery, adventure, toil, harmony, haven, disaster, change, and even humor?

Try these words on your imagination: Cape Horn, fiord, Krakatoa, penguin, Everest, zephyr, Mecca, tsunami, coral, Euphrates, Kalahari, savanna, transylvania, gnu, Polynesia, Brahmaputra, Parthenon and Verdun.

Teaching geography requires the use of films, records, bulletin boards, library reports, projects, and guest speakers to make the subject interesting and meaningful; I urge that you also employ the work of the poet and playwright to help to make it more memorable.

Poetry and Geography

There is a body of poetry that has immediate relevance to a study of people and their places. This poetry ranges from the heroic, to the lyric, to the comic. The incorporation of this poetry can take different forms in your geography class. It can be teacher read, read in chorus form or read by individual students. It can form the basis of bulletin boards, or be written on transparencies and made part of slide presentations. Students can copy it into geography journals. Some of it lends itself to dramatic presentation.

For the geography teacher, the poet’s word choices bearing on the subject of geography should become part of the students’ vocabulary ledgers (students will later spell and define Cathay from . . . For the wander-thirst is on me/And my soul is in Cathay . . . .)2 Using this poetry you might feel that you are trespassing on the English/ Reading teacher’s territorial prerogatives; I would simply advise coordination in the matter. Realistically speaking, many elementary reading texts neglect the inclusion of a broad spectrum of poetry: in presenting it in your class, you will be serving a noble task, and the gods should smile on you.

Finally, when should the poetry be used? In some cases, the poems concern themselves with a particular place, resource, person or occurrence and the reference should make its use obvious. But, I would also reserve a sort of spontaneity with its use. A class discussion might be the spark. Perhaps, a news’ item might trigger its use. I would generally have the attitude, “Let me share this poem with you; I like it, I hope you do too.”

The geography class year begins with the mandatory lessons on latitude, longitude, direction, rotation, and prime meridian. Ralph Hodgson does the same thing in poetry. I will use several line from his poem—as I will with the other poetry samples—to give you a flavor of it. On the right I offer some comments for certain teaching opportunities.

Time, You Old Gypsy Man,3
Time, You Old Gypsy Man,
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Last week in Babylon,
Last night in Rome,
Morning and in the crush
Under Paul’s dome . . . .

In “You, Andrew Marvell”4 Archibald Macleish takes us on an even slower journey following the appearance of the sun on our earth. We watch the light gather in the Persian mountains and make its way to Baghdad, Lebanon, Crete, Sicily, Spain and:

. . . Of Africa the gilded sand
And evening vanish and no more
The low pale light across that land
Nor now the long light on the sea . . . .

The beginning of the geography year concerns itself with weather and climate world-wide. Poets dabble in the same subject.

The Rain It Raineth5
Lord Bowen
The rain it raineth on the just
and also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just because
the unjust steals the just’s umbrella.
From “Pippa Passes” 6
Robert Browning
The years’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven-
All’s right with the world!

Weather can be benevolent or destructive. Howard Mohr cautions us about tornadoes. If you hear the sound of a passing freight train, but you do not live near railroad tracks, the sound is that of a nearby tornado. No sound is also a sign. If your house suddenly disappears without a trace except “for the unbroken bathroom mirror;” a tornado has struck. He concludes in “How to Tell a Tornado”7 that if a high wind has passed by:

. . . and you are naked
except for the right leg
of your pants,
you can safely assume
that a tornado
has gone through your life
without touching it.

The next two poets consider the world in its entirety. One sings and one laments.

Miracles 8
Walt Whitman
. . . As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Or animals feeding in the fields.
Or birds, or the wonderfulness
of the sundown, or of stars
shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin
curve of the new moon in spring;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To me every hour of the light and dark
is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the
earth is spread with the same . . . .

“The World Is a Beautiful Place”9 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti offers a contrast to Whitman’s view. The poet remarks that happiness is not always “so very much fun.” Life brings its share of pain . Even horror. He writes:

. . . The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn’t half so bad
if it isn’t you.

The attractiveness of the fair or marketplace is universal. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the confusion, the vitality are a magnet to us. The bazaars of Hyderabad is such a place.

In The Bazaars of Hyderabad 10
Sarojini Naidu
. . . What do you weigh, O ye vendors?
Saffron and lentil and rice.
What do you grind, O ye maidens?
Sandalwood, henna, and spice.
What do you call, O ye peddlers?
Chessmen and ivory dice . . . .

Naidu’s market has magicians end musicians. It has plums and gold scabbards. There are tunics richly-colored and turbans the same. There is chanting and flower girls. It is a world that beckons one and all.

The study of geography is the study of world poverty in some quarters. We observe people wracked by nature, by economic forces, by war and by fate. The next poem acquaints us with the feelings and yearnings of a homeless one. She is weary of “mist and dark” and wishes for a place to rest.

An Old Woman of the Roads11
Padraic Colum
O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there’s never a house
nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome
hush:

Of course, a collection of limericks can be a geography “trip” by itself. Their authors take us to every global nook and cranny in existence, and some that don’t exist. Here are the beginnings of several by the master Edward Lear12

An unpopular youth of Cologne
With a pain in his stomach did mogne . . . .
or
A skeleton once in Khartoum
Asked a spirit up into his room . . . .
or
There was an old man of Thermopylae
Who never did anything properly . . . .
or
There was a young fellow of Perth
Who was born on the day of his birth . . . .

Travelers learn that individuals can find beauty anywhere and consider that place home. This can be a teeming city neighborhood, a windy lake-shore, a distant coral atoll, or an arid wasteland. Robert Burns leaves no doubt about where his sentiments lie in the following:

My Heart’s in the Highlands 13
Robert Burns
My heart’s in the highlands, my heart
is not here,
My heart’s in the highland, a-chasing
the deer,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell
to the North,
The birthplace of valor, the country
of worth!
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands forever
I love . . . .

Then, there are the haiku, showing again the Japanese ability to do much with little:

What a sad sight—dead butterflies
Hanging upon a spider’s web.
Shiki14
The harvest moon is so bright
My shadow walks home with me.
Sodøo

The animals of the world provide us with food and clothing; they entertain us with their characteristics; scientists utilize them for our benefit. Ogden Nash, of the miraculous rhyme, frequently told us of animal qualities as in:

The Hippopotamus15
Ogden Nash
Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Peace, peace thou hippopotamus:
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

Students in geography class must locate countless places on the globe. The penalty for failure in doing this can be low grades and raising teacher’s ire. Don’t give Robert Graves the wrong direction. If you do, he wants you to pay dearly. He wants you to travel wandering in vain from place to place. He wants you stumbling on year after year without rest. And finally, he writes in “Traveler’s Curse After Misdirection”16:

May they catch their feet and fall;
At each and every fall they take,
May a bone within them break . . . .

The study of geography is the study of conflict and control by one people over another to varying degrees. J.R.D.A. Dubreka echoes the anger of the native of a country who wishes to go his own way. He will not hold a grudge, he says. He wishes to not only be free of the foreigner, but also of his own countrymen who do the bidding of the foreigner:

Goodbye, Europeans 17
J.R.D.A. Dubreka
Goodbye, Europeans . . .
Goodbye, provided you disturb
us no more
Let him follow you.
He who believes you indispensable . . . .

One gauge of a nation’s wealth is its natural resources. Are those resources needed at that historical moment? Are they easy to obtain? Are there water bodies nearby for shipping? Does the nation have the technological base available? Geography texts discuss these questions, and even report mineral wealth by the ton. Louis Untermeyer looks at the matter differently. He traces a coal fire right to the green leaf. The leaf had to learn to “drink light.” The parts of the tree that the leaves grew on had to absorb their “diet of heat.” The process, he writes, in “Coal,” 18 takes “six million years or higher,” until:

The fire is loose again . . . .
It fastens on the remnants of the tree
And, one by one
Consumes them; mounts beyond them;
leaps; is done;
And goes back to the sun.

Surviving, making a living, storing for difficult times, grasping for more than we need occupies man full-time. In “Eldorado” the youthful and handsome searcher-for-gold grows into a doomed, driven, seeker-of-folly who cannot distinguish the real from the phantom. He has spent his adult life wandering on his quest. Eventually, the song on his lips falters:

Eldorado 19
Edgar Allan Poe
. . . But he grew old-
This knight so bold-
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
And as his strength
Failed him at length
He met a pilgrim shadow:
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be-
This land of Eldorado?”
. . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Ride, boldly ride,
The shade replied,
If you seek Eldorado!

It is part of the human condition to find fault. We find it in our families, our communities, our nation. Why, in our darker moments, we even find it with ourselves. Robert Frost in the next poem pokes gentle fun at those who see the East as superior to the West. His Mrs. Someone has traveled to the Orient and she’s come back with “bamboos, ivories, jades, and lacquers, devil-soaring firecrackers.” In “The Importer”20 she has returned with :

. . . Recipes for tea with butter,
Sacred rigmaroles to mutter
Subterfuge for saving faces,
A developed taste in vases,
Arguments too stale to mention-
‘Gainst American invention- . . . .

Geography requires an introduction to the varieties of the religions of the world. How do they view the origin of man? This is the way the Fulani of Africa see it.

The Fulani Creation Story 21
Traditional (from the Fulani)
At the beginning there was a huge drop of milk
Then Doondari came and he created the stone.
The stone created iron;
The iron created fire;
And fire created water;
And water created air;
The Doondari descended the second time.
And he took the five elements
And he shaped them into man.
But man was proud.
Than Doondari created blindness, and
blindness defeated man . . . .

The warlord, the sacker, the conquistador, the vandal, the crusader, the vistor have swept back and forth across history’s pages and across the reach of continents. Just and unjust conflicts have left countless casualties in their wake. In the next poem, Old Kaspar’s grandchild unearths a smooth and round skull; the child is quizzical, and his grandfather gives him an explanation:

After Blenheim 22
Robert Southey
. . . “Tis some poor fellow’s skull,’ said he,
‘Who fell in the great victory.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
‘I find them in the garden
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough
The ploughshare turns them out
For many thousand men.’ said he,
Were slain in that great victory.’
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
‘It was the English,’ Kaspar cried,
‘Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for
I could not well make out.
But everybody said, ‘quoth he,
‘That ‘twas a famous victory.

There are some poems that cry out to be memorized by seventh graders. Failure to have your students do this should result in your immediate deportation to a desert island for extreme dereliction of duty. Here are several that come to mind:

Requiem 23
Robert Louis Stevenson
. . . Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter from the hill.
Abou Ben Adhem 24
Leigh Hunt
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold . . . .
Romance 25
W. J. Turner
When I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.

Drama and Geography

It is always evident that students enjoy “doing” plays. It is especially rewarding when the play has substance. It is even better when the play has a relevance to a school subject; This is winning the triple crown. There are plays that have foreign settings that are readily applicable to seventh grade geography study. Adapting these plays to your classroom use will depend generally (1) on the time constraints placed on you and (2) your own comfort with their use.

I have chosen four plays to include in this unit; the settings are Nigeria, Ireland, U.S.S.R., and Japan. You could take each of or any one of the vehicles and do a full fledged mounting of the drama, or at the very least, these plays could serve as valuable oral reading exercises for classroom use. Each of these dramas, while telling a wonderful tale, is filled with engaging conflict. They contain a wealth of geographic information that can illuminate what is normally covered in the class and can serve as a springboard for other lessons. Finally, they contain varying amounts of comic dialogue—oven though two plays border on the tragic—that is almost guaranteed to capture a student’s interest.

Incorporating these plays, I would have several major concerns and aims. The first would be to see that every student had at least one substantial role in one drama. This would require a kind of formal and informal casting at the year’s outset. For the first several weeks of the year, I would listen attentively and actively with a note pad at my side as the students read, answered, discussed, and in general ‘communicated.’ When I was satisfied with my impressions of their abilities, I would inform them of the drama I had chosen for them and the individual characters they would play. This would be done in group meetings.

A second concern would be the timing of the play. This would be plotted to coincide with the scheduled study of that particular country or region.

Each group would have responsibilities in preparing scripts, sets or backgrounds, and obtaining props, with my assistance. Under the leadership of a chairperson and me, the group would set up a schedule for charting their progress. This would include visits to the library for information.

For detailed background on more specific techniques of classroom drama application, please see the other units in this collected work, and also Volume III, 1980, of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Drama Seminar.

My first play is The Swamp Dweller by Wole Soyinka.26 It is set on the edge of a huge swamp in Nigeria and the time is the recent past.

Nigeria, one of Africa’s most populous countries, is located just north of the equator where the continent begins the large bulge to the west. Its people are of three dominant ethnic groups: the Yoruba (west), Ibo (east), and the Hausa (north). The location, though clearly tropical, doesn’t completely determine the climate, which ranges from rain forest in the south to Savanna and on to Saharan in the north. Though oil has played a major role in its development—and its recent problems—, nigeria has an agricultural economy and most of that is subsistence farming. Following independence from Great Britain in 1963, military rule existed until 1979 when civilian government was initiated. From 1967-1970, nigeria suffered through the attempted Biafran accession and its disastrous consequences to its population.

Nigeria fronts on the Gulf of Guinea. Its coastline is covered by a region of mangrove swamp forest. This swamp is criss-crossed by many small rivers and creeks. Adjoining the swamp is a belt of tropical rain forest. Farther inland the terrain rises to a plateau and a savanna region and finally becomes arid.

Soyinka’s story deals with a universal experience. The two sons of the aging Alu and Makuri had previously left their swamp home to go to the city to take what it offered. The life of the village they had left was precarious but predictable. Dangers and hardship were to be faced always; and those things that were unknowable were handled with the intercession of the priest. One focus of the play is the intrusion into the village of modernity; another aspect is a generation gap, the young striking out. The drama also focuses on a people, who like many in the world, exist from day to day at the mercy of fate and nature. In western society we practice charity in an impersonal, organized, bureaucratic manner; in The Swamp Dweller we witness a person-to-person charity. Finally, once taken into dramatic events, we forget that we are in a reed hut on the border of a Nigerian swamp. We begin to feel at home; we become “family.”

The drama opens with Alu worrying that her son Igwezu is lost in the swamp. She worries even though as Makuri, her husband, reminds her that the boy was raised on the swamp’s fringe. The banter here is lively and entertaining. We learn that the son, Igwezu, had gone to the city to make his living and only recently had returned to check the crops on his own plot of land. He learned that the recent floods had drowned his crops along with those of everyone else.

Igwezu was one of twins; his brother Awuchike had also migrated to the city and had never contacted his parents since his long-ago departure. Both parents are certain that he has died in his venture. The parents complain that the young are no sooner born than they want to get out of the village as if it carried a plague; “The city ruins them. They seek nothing but money there.”

A visitor appears at their door, a blind beggar from the north. He has trekked from his drought-ridden village to find farmland where there is an abundance of water. The play’s action here reveals that local custom requires charity toward afflicted people. We witness also that water is brought for the washing of the traveler’s feet by the host.

Discussion reveals that there is no unused farmland remaining; also, it is not permitted to reclaim land from the swamp as that is the land of the Serpent of the Swamp god. Soon, drums signal the approach of the priest Kadiye. Alu quickly puta the house to order for this Servant of the Serpent. Before serving the new guest a cup of cane brew, we see that custom requires that the host drink of the cup first.

In the ensuing conversation, the beggar describing his homeland notes that each plant was treated with gentleness because of meager water. He was driven to leave finally when locusts dust a crop that had promised to be bountiful. “The gifts of the gods are unequal,” we are told.

Soon, there is rejoicing when Igwezu, the missing son, returns. The meeting him, expresses a wish to be his bondman, or servant; he wishes to be a farmer on Igwezu’s land. A long discussion reveals that Igwezu’s wife had left him for his twin brother; not dead, he is now a wealthy lumber merchant. Igwezu notes again that he had returned to the village to farm his land, to come home. He spoke of feeling a “growing loss of touch” in the city.

The play closes with a scene of high conflict. An angry Igwezu accuses the priest Kadiye of benefiting from the gifts bestowed on him by the poor villagers for the appeasement of the Serpent of the Swamp. Kadiye storms out promising retribution. The curtain falls with the parents feeling great concern for their son.

Where The Swamp Dweller has several serious concerns, especially that of a society threatened with change, Anton Chekhov’s A Marriage Proposal27 takes a light look at a comic threesome. The play is set in rural Russia at the turn of the century, that is, before the Revolution. Before tackling the play, I would have the class study the U.S.S.R. as we had Nigeria. We would naturally note its vastness, its immense mineral wealth, its many ethnic groups, its rivers, its climate zones, its history, etcetera. This would be a dispassionate examination of the place: But any examination of the U.S.S.R. or any other totalitarian state necessitates a discussion of human freedom and its preciousness. This unit is concerned with poetry and drama and their creation. I would point out to the students in a not too dispassionate manner, that totalitarian states consider poets and playwrights dangerous individuals.

In A marriage Proposal the principals are adjoining an owners. Thirty-five year old bachelor Lomov appears at, Stepanovitch’s home to propose to his daughter, twenty-five year old Natalia. He is formally dressed including the wearing of gloves. Nervous to the point of fainting on this occasion, he needs water to pull him through. The father, suspicious of the purpose of Lomov’s visit, calls him “Angel” and enthusiastically kisses him on the cheek when he learns of his intentions.

Natalia joins the scene. Before Lomov can make his proposal to her, a spirited argument develops over the ownership of a meadow between their property. Charges go back and forth. At one point Stepan angrily demands being spoken to respectfully because of his age. The characters even begin casting aspersions on their antagonist’s flawed ancestors. The action is hilarious.

Lomov, by now a physical wreck, departs the scene. A dramatic comic turnabout occurs when Natalia learns why Lomov had paid the visit. She badly wants him back to accept his proposal. The abrupt change in her is so great and so bewildering to Stepan., that he cries, “Oh, lord! What a task it is to be the father of a grown daughter!”

Lomov is called back and a resolution seems apparent, but then another shift happens: The three begin to argue the merits of their respective hunting dogs. The pressure is too great; the timid Lomov finally faints. He revives with Stepan. telling him to marry his daughter promptly. Peace reigns momentarily before the argument reopens to the shouting of Stepan. for “Champagne.”

Colonial Ireland is the scene of my third play. Any study of Ireland would necessitate a look at its long and tragic history of abuse by its neighbor, the bloody consequences of which remain to this day.

Spreading The News28 by Lady Gregory opens at a small town fair in Ireland. A new autocratic government magistrate finds the muddy scene unorganized and repulsive. Early on, Mrs. Tarpey informs the official that there is no trade in the town but, “Meddling in other’s affairs and talking.” Joining in the conversation Bartley, a villager, agrees that it is a poor place, but he feels that if he had migrated to America held be dead by now.

After meeting most of the characters, we witness the beginnings of a rumor of a murder take root. It arises from some coincidental events, some faulty perceptions, a need to gossip, and an old woman’s poor hearing. As the bits and pieces of misinformation are offered and accepted as fact, conclusions are drawn about the accused. The final resolution might have been comic except that the supposed victim has reason to still harbor a terrible sense of injury against the wrongfully accused man. This wound may never be healed, and it is certain that the gossip has proven poisonous.

Life everywhere is fragile and uncertain in the best of circumstances. Even as I sit here, supposedly safely, of being zapped by particles of some food additive, decomposing brake lining, quick-drying housepaint, or miracle clothing de-wrinkler.

Seriously though, geography study reveals that some people and some communities always live under a threat of imminent disaster: earthquake, flood, mine collapse, volcano eruption, wind storms, drought, fire and avalanche. And even having faced the occurrence of one of these catastrophes, people return to the same place. We can only ask “why?” with a kind of heightened wonder about humans and their spirit. My last drama is set in such an endangered place, coastal Japan.

The Japanese coastal villagers are chiefly hillside farmers and beach dwelling fishermen in Pearl Buck’s The Big Wave.29 We learn that the stone walls of the terraced fields had been erected by ancestors, and that the walk from home to the fields is a difficult one. We observe the family having a lunch of rice, fish, and soup while seated on the floor about a table. Foreshadowing occurs when the sea is called the “enemy,” and it is noted that the fishermen have no windows facing the sea on their beachfront homes. Also, the area’s elderly aristocrat uses a telescope to scan the sea for trouble regularly.

Jaya, the fisherman’s son, describes to his friend Kino the actions of the old sea god who lives below and sometimes stamps his feet in anger. He wishes aloud that he were a farmer’s son like Kino.

Discussing the old aristocrat, Jaya’s father explains that he listens to him not because he is rich, but because he is old and wise. In this discussion, the father relates a fatalistic view. Speaking of those of their kinsmen who die quickly and violently at the hands of nature, he says, “All must die, because it is so.”

We see Kino during rice planting time so tired that he falls asleep over supper. Jaya’s busy time comes when the fish school in the channel, and the catches are so heavy that the nets can barely be lifted. Describing the thrill of fishing in the open sea he compares it to flying.

When the nearby volcano begins to vent, the family takes precautions including gathering together, just in case. Kino’s father explaining the actions of the gods, says that they leave men alone at times of eruption to test their ability to save themselves: “Fear must not overcome man; your hands must not tremble and your feet must not falter.” When the actual tidal wave approaches, Jaya’s father commands his son to seek safety; the boy is told that he must live on after his parents. He must not resist leaving them; he must obey, “As a good Japanese son.”

We then witness as the villagers on the high ground watch as a tidal wave engulf everything on the shore and lower slopes including the people. Soon, once again there is a calm sea and a golden sky. This total change in the surroundings confuses Kino whose father tells him that every day one must appreciate the value of life. They are not unfortunate to live in Japan; they love life because they live in danger.

Time passes and eventually fishermen again begin to build homes on the beach. Jaya himself decides to do this. This will be his life; his home, contrary to custom, will have a window opening on the sea. Kino’s father explains that this is evidence that life is stronger than death.

Following are four vocabulary lists corresponding with the unit’s plays. They can be used in puzzles, vocabulary ledgers, or as discussion starters.

The Swamp Dwellers

hemp, fly flick, swamp flies, rushes, basket making, slough, taper, Allah, alms, knead, tuber, cassava, pulp the canes, kola tree, millet, barren fields, desert palm fronds, plaintain, clan, locusts, bondsman, cocoa pods.

A Marriage Proposal

meadows, birch woods, brick earth, “hay will rot”, peasants, roubles (rubles), threshing machine, reapers, appropriate (verb) property, Count Rasvachai.

Spreading The News

agrarian, boycott, maiming, Andaman Islands, salt tax, unlicensed goods, spirits, unbeknownst, seed potatoes, tinkers, bullocks, hayfork and tramp, mouldering, sheet for the burying, parish, souper, a hundred pounds, informer, clergy, shadow goes wandering, forge, anointing by priest.

The Big Wave

terraced farms, kimono, rafters, aristocrat, sea god, sheaves, volcano, rice seedlings, channel, padded jacket, bean curd, seedtime, harvest, threshing floor, earthquake, fathom, knoll, tsunami, Honored Sir, scroll, writing brush, wooden sandals.

Special Activities

1. Divide class between those playing roles as interviewers and interviewees. The participants will take parts of the characters in the various plays. This exercise should follow the study of the respective countries and the “doing” of the plays. Scripts will be prepared in which the questioner seeks information from the role player. This information sought would be of a general geographic nature.
2. At various times during the year, using a large wall map, locate places where some allusion from one of our poems or plays might be found. For example:
____a. Locate the capital of Alu’s country.
____b. Indicate the site of Babylon.
____c. Show where the potato blight famine took place.
____d. Find the location of Robert Louis Stevenson’s gravesite.
____e. Where are Robert Burns’ highlands?
3. Spreading The News deals with the spreading of hurtful misinformation. Discuss the need for accuracy in observation and reporting. Divide the class into two groups. Select a student from each group and have these two students each read a different, brief narrative (about one page). On completion of the silent reading, have each student whisper a summary of the story to another student of his respective group. Continue this process of having each student tell another the story as be learned it. Do this until each story has made its way through the entire group. At that point, have the last listener relate the story as he heard it with as much detail as he remembers. Following this, have the original stories read. The contrasts between the two versions should be informative for everybody.
4. We can be fairly certain that the characters in the four plays carefully used what was found in their environment. Can we say the same of ourselves? Ask the students to record over a brief period of time (a day or a week) some of the things that they commonly see become trash or garbage. When these lists are accumulated, begin to trace the possible origin of the material of their composition (e.g. a milk carton from Maine pulpwood). Briefly discuss the manufacturing processes entailed in the production of these items. Elicit from the students some of the practical ways that we individually and collectively could become less wasteful.

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Notes

1. L. Sterner and M. Ronick, eds., Tales in Verse (N. Y. : Globe Book Co., 1963), p. 268.
2. E. Gordon, B. Welch and W. Eller, eds., Introduction to Literature (Lexington, Mass. : Ginn and Co., 1978 ) p. 486.
3. J. Enright and Clara Marthaler, eds., A Book of Poetry (N. Y.: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., p. 149.
4. F. O. Matthiessen, ed., The Oxford Book of American Verse (N. Y.: Oxford U. Press, 1950 ), p. 894.
5. M. C. Livingston, ed., What a Wonderful Bird the Frog Are (N. Y.: Harcourt, 1973 ) p. 128.
6. F. T. Palgrave, ed., The Golden Treasury (N. Y.: The Macmillan Co., 1929) p. 428.
7. E. Lueders and P. St. John, eds., Zero Makes Me Hungry (N. Y.: Wm. Morrow and Co., 1976 ) p. 95.
8. W. Oliver, I. Willis and R. Willis, eds., New Worlds of Reading (N. Y.: Harcourt, 1969 ), p. 269.
9. R. Peck, ed., Poems for the Real World: Mindscapes (N. Y.: Delacorte Press, 1971 ), p. 10.
10. Enright, p. 105.
11. Palgrave, p. 584.
12. S. and J. Brewton, ed., Laughable Limericks ( N. Y.: Thomas Y. Crowell, Co., 1965), pp. 65-67.
13. Enright, p. 133.
14 Issa, Yayu, Kikaku, Don’t Tell the Scarecrow and Other Japanese Poems (N. Y.: Four Winds Press, 1969 ).
15. O. Nash, Parents Keep Out ( Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951)
16. Livingston, p. 165.
17. W. Soyinka, ed., Poems of Black Africa (N. Y.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975 ), p. 256.
18. L. Untermeyer, ed., The Golden Treasury Of Poetry (N. Y.: Golden Press, 1959 ), p.256.
19. W. Loban, D. Holmstrom and L. Cook, Adventures in Appreciation (N. Y.: Harcourt, 1958 ), p. 203.
20. Livingston, p. 62.
21. Soyinka, p. 57.
22. Palgrave, p.258.
23. Ibid., p.532.
24. Sterner, p. 81.
25. R. Niebling, ed., A Journey of Poems (N. Y.: Dell Co., 1964 ), p. 24.
26. Soyinka, Collected Plays I (Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 1973), pp. 79-112.
27. Bennett Cerf and V. Cartmell, ed., 24 Favorite One-Act Plays( Garden City: Doubleday, Inc., 1958 ), pp. 403-416.
28. Cerf, pp. 417-433.
29. W. Iverson, A. McCarthy and Sam Sebesta, ed., Panoramas of Literature (N. Y.: Random House, 1969 ), pp:. 252-268.

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Bibliography

Asimov, Isaac. Words on the Map. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962.

Detailed information about over 1500 place names.

ben-Jochannan, Yosef; Hugh Brooks and Kempton Webb. Africa: The Land, The People, The Culture. New York: W.H. Sadlier, Inc., 1971.

A region by region coverage of the continent. Excellent end of unit suggestions.

Bowyer, Carol; Roma Trundle and Annabel Warrender. The Children’s Book of Peoples and Their Countries. London: Usborne Publishing, 1979.

Attractive and readable: helpful in getting background for class projects including clothing types.

Carter, Marcia. A Cast of Thousands: Surviving The Junior High Play. New York: Scholastic, 1981.

Concise, informative and inexpensive. Sufficient for geography teacher’s use.

Cole, Ann; Carolyn Haas, Elizabeth Heller and Betty Weinberger. Children Are Children Are Children. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978.

An activity approach to exploring Brazil, France, Iran, Japan, Nigeria and the U.S.S.R.

Courlander, Harold. Ride with the Sun. New York: McGraw Hill Co., 1955.

An anthology of stories from the world over.

Cox, F. Kenneth; Miriam Greenberg and Stanley Seaberg. Human Heritage: A World History. Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Co., 1981.

Focus is on showing that individuals and groups have shaped their heritage.

Kamerman, Sylvia E., ed. Dramatized Folk Tales of the World. Boston: Plays, Inc., 1971.

A collection of fifty one-act adaptations from many lands.

Latour, Lawrence. Inquiry Experiences in Geography. Ginn and Co., 1973.

The approach is on the student using investigative abilities and developing own conclusions.

Ludlow, Hope T. The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. New York: Scholastic, 1973.

A factual description told through in part by young people of the countries.

Peyton, Jeffrey and Barbara Koenig. Puppetry: A Tool for Teaching. New Haven: Bojabi Treehouse, 1973.

A concise guide telling How-to construct puppets and giving examples of their use.

Way, Brian. Development Through Drama. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1967.

A wise person has written this book about using techniques of drama in a common sense manner in a classroom day-to-day.

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Additional Poems

Forefathers, Birago Diop

Travel, Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Blind Man and the Elephant, John Godfrey Saxe

The Map, Elizabeth Bishop

Cargoes, John Masefield

Smells, Christopher Morley

Caravans, Hal Borland

Autumn Dawning, Julie Romero de Torres

Do You Fear The Wind? Hamlin Garland

Sea Fever, John Masefield

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, William Butler Yeats

Fueled, Marcie Hans

The Perforated Spirit, Morris Bishop

Earth, Oliver Harford

Lineage, Margaret Walker

African Dance, Langston Hughes

Waking, Annie Higgins

King Tut, X.J. Kennedy

Patience, Harry Graham

Elegy, Arthur Guiterman

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Contents of 1983 Volume V | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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