Junior Workshops on selected poems
by Chris Stephens
I met Midnight
Her eyes were sparkling pavements after frost.
She wore a full length, dark-blue raincoat with a hood.
She winked. She smoked a small cheroot.
I followed her.
Her walk was more a shuffle, more a dance.
She took the path to the river, down she went.
On Midnight’s scent,
I heard the twelve cool syllables, her name,
chime from the town.
When those bells stopped,
Midnight paused by the water’s edge.
She waited there.
I saw a girl in purple on the bridge.
It was One o’Clock.
Hurry, Midnight said. It’s late, it’s late.
I saw them run together.
They kissed full on the lips
And then I slept.
The next day I bumped into Half-Past Four.
He was a bore.
Carol Ann Duffy
...I found this rather confusing. Who is she meeting on the bridge?... I really enjoyed it, but it doesn’t say anything about half-past three... I liked it best when they described how her eyes were… like icy pavements.
Read ‘Meeting Midnight’ and discuss how the poet gives the time itself a personality, and a life. In an innovations on text exercise present children with a simple writing frame which echoes the layout and content of the original, but refers to Midnights’s opposite. Provide suggestions as to what qualities the person has, possibly linked to heat, sunshine, sand… temper, fire…
I met Midday.
His eyes were………………….
He blinked. He chewed………..,
I followed him.
His walk was more like………………..more like……………………
he took the road………………………..down he went.
On Midday’s smell,
The smell of……………………
The world stood still, like Midday.
Experience the use of personification in poetry, by referring to a selection of classic poems, such as Walter de la Mare’s ‘Silver’, (about the moon), and ‘The Sea’ by James Reeves, which begins ‘The sea is a hungry dog’. Extend this experience by composing together poems which personify the weather, or perhaps one of the seasons, eg winter as a soldier, ‘marching through the countryside, striking down living things with his icy sword…’. Alternatively introduce a story such as ‘Death on the Road’, the Pardoner’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales where death actually takes on a character, who influences, and tricks the three friends into killing one another.
Create a large frieze or collage picture of a clock – with numbers and hands. Create cartoon characters for each of the hours, ( and 1/2s and 1/4s possibly) saying how they are dressed, what they do etc…..and illustrate them. Place these alongside the clock figures, with captions like these.
Seven thirty’s name is Bertie
Cleaning out the fires has made him dirty.
Nine o’clock is Master School
Be there by the bell is his golden rule!
Eleven in the morning, Madame Toffee,
Meets her friends for toast and coffee.
Two pm’s an after-lunchtime snooze
For a crumpled Mr Jacket on a holiday cruise.
Returning to the poem, use it as the basis for a piece of investigative journalism! Create a report around the incident described, imagining that it has been witnessed by an off-duty writer, who begins his report…
“Late last night I was walking home along the path by the river having visited my elderly mother. I was afraid she might have fallen on the frosty pavements earlier in the evening, but she was quite safe. Ahead of me in the mist, was a figure, in what appeared to be a full length…
Examples of children’s responses in poetry
I met Midday.
His eyes were shining like the water’s edge.
He wore a shirt like the sun, with a tint of red.
He blinked. He chewed a strand of corn.
I followed him
His walk was more like leaps of joy, more like
the hurtles of a little boy.
He took the road of the light on mid-day’s sun, down he went.
On Midday’s smell,
The smell of petals of flowers, of soil and leaves
I heard his whisper, in the rustle of trees and hay.
The world stood still – like Midday.
(Gareth Trott – Year 6)