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?
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:
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
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and the link for the sample prairie poem by a student at Gilert Lincus Elementary School in Vermont seems to be no longer active.)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.