Canadian Poet Robert Service

yummy wine grapesWe are still digging out from visiting family in Western New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada). This was one of those trips that was JAM packed with lots to do in just a few days.

The Labor Day cookout was enjoyable, the Canadian side of the Falls was spectacular, and my niece’s late night soccer game in Canada (which started at 9 p.m.) was also great – but the success of the trip was really in the little things!

mari evansThe laughter shared, the casual convos, and the boys chowing down on the sweet, ripe wine grapes from the Gigliotti Niagara garden.  Oh, and when my niece’s 4 year-old son, Max, reached up and unexpectedly grabbed my hand as we walked into a store- well the tight, little grip on my hand went straight to become a grip on my heart.

RS 8-2013

Family time is important and I am grateful for this trip up North because the little things on the trip assuaged a yearning for family.

So to wrap up this post, I thought it would be fitting to highlight Canadian poet Robert W. Service, who also wrote a nice poem about the value of small things:

(an excerpt from) The Joy of Little Things  

“I sometimes wonder, after all,    

Amid this tangled web of fate,            

If what is great may not be small,        

And what is small may not be great.

So wondering I go my way,

Yet in my heart contentment sings . . .

O may I ever see, I pray, God’s grace and love in Little Things.

So give to me, I only beg,

A little roof to call my own,

A little cider in the keg,

A little meat upon the bone;

A little garden by the sea,

A little boat that dips and swings . . .

Take wealth, take fame, but leave to me,

O Lord of Life, just Little Things.


Teaching Tips: 

~Modeling: Parents, do not forget that children learn many lessons from observation.  An important part of what we teach teens comes from what happens naturally as we live life together.  As we take trips together, compromise on issues, plan schedules, discuss issues, and just as we live.  So remember that our kids notice what we value, they notice what we thank God for, and they overhear what we talk about, get excited about, and what issues we dissect.  And as my hubby and I were celebrating some of the small things from our trip – well we were also modeling for our kids that the little things have much value.  🙂

~Robert W. Service is most famous for his lyrical poem The Cremation of Sam McGeewhich is included in most High School Lit books and is a fun must-read for teens.

~Robert W. Service also wrote more than a thousand poems –  many were about life in the Great White North and about the different situations humans often face!

~Give your teens a 10 minute Poet Talk about Robert Service. (A poet talk is similar to a book talk – where a teacher talks about a book, the author, the plot, and then offers a few juicy details from the book -and where the aim is to get the students to want to read the book, but another aim is to expose the student to some of the book’s content, which may be small, but still adds to their foundation and knowledge base. And so in a poet talk, we want the student to follow up and read poems from this poet, but we also just want ten minutes to saturate their minds with some tidbits about this writer.)

  Poet Talk: Tell your teens that for 10 minutes you are going to present info about Robert Service -Set the timer and be sure to stop at ten minutes!  Share about how Service was a banker in England who studied literature and kept in shape physically.  He dreamed of being a cowboy in Canada and emigrated there to pursue a new life!   In Canada, he worked many odd jobs and traveled (ask the students how this kind of experience would influence the content of his writing). Then share one or two of his poems (that you select ahead of time) – or go through the poem titles and vote on a few to read.  Keeping the poet talk short and sweet is a nice way to introduce an “old school” poet – that our teens may go back to explore later on.

~For my poet talk, I chose the poem No Sunday Chicken because it touched upon empathy and provided a nice example of how giving is NOT always done from excess!  Instead, many times we give from little – which sometimes may even involve sacrificing to help someone in need.

An excerpt from No Sunday Chicken:

I could have sold him up because His rent was long past due; And Grimes, my lawyer, said it was The proper thing to do: But how could I be so inhuman? And me a gentle-woman. Yet I am poor as chapel mouse, Pinching to make ends meet, And have to let my little house To buy enough to eat: Why, even now to keep agoing I have to take in sewing…

I want to wipe away a tear Even to just suppose Some monster of an auctioneer Might sell his sticks and clothes: I’d rather want for bread and butter Than see them in the gutter.

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