To Make a Prairie Poem

Oscar’s Gift Reading Guide: Day 6

To Make a Prairie Poem

“I stood in the center of a great sea of grass. Everywhere I looked I saw the buffalo grass and milkweed plants that Mr. Squirrel Coat had pointed out along our journey. Wheatgrass moved in waves with the breeze. I recognized yellow wild sunflowers and black-eyed Susan, the white flowers of wild garlic and the purple flowers of phlox.” ~ Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux

Photo Credit: Wing-Chi Poon (Badlands National Park, South Dakota)
Photo Credit: Wing-Chi Poon (Badlands National Park, South Dakota)

What is a prairie?

A prairie, or grassland ecosystem, is an area dominated by grasses, with plants and animals that have evolved together in a mutually dependent relationship. ~ Northern State University

Flower of the Prairie Turnip, Badlands National Park
Flower of the Prairie Turnip, Badlands National Park

The prairie is vast but made up of small plants and animals, plain but dotted with points of brilliant color. As Emily Dickinson captured in her poem, “To make a prairie,” the prairie’s secret is its call to become one with it:

To make a prairie

by Emily Dickinson

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

Revery: The condition of being lost in thought; state of absent-minded daydreaming

Visit these resources to learn more about prairies, then go to the writing prompt, below, to create your own prairie poem.

Writing Prompt: Use the Imagist Prairie Poem activity from the Illinois State Museum to write your own prairie poem. This is a well-written lesson plan with details instructions and student examples. (Note that the correct link for Outta Ray’s Head – The Poetry Page is http://home.cogeco.ca/~rayser3/poetry.htm, and the link for the sample prairie poem by a student at Gilert Lincus Elementary School in Vermont seems to be no longer active.)


Click HERE for the full Reading Guide.

Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux is available from Amazon as a paperback and ebook.

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