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
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
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.
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.
- From the Nature Conservancy: Nature in Art
- From Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota: A webpage describes the different kinds of prairies in South Dakota, their ecosystem, how they were formed, why they are important, and efforts to build and conserve them
- A child-friendly page from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: What is a Prairie?
- From the Illinois State Museum: Prairie in Illinois.
- For more in-depth information, photos, and diagrams (from McDaniel College): Grasslands of the US
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and the link for the sample prairie poem by a student at Gilert Lincus Elementary School in Vermont seems to be no longer active.)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.