Being on Facebook constantly makes me reflect in an overly-self aware state about my life is. Hearing from people throughout my life makes me think about what I regret and just how much. Such a dour view brings me back to a memorable poem by Edgar Lee Masters – “George Gray”. The whole anthology are tales from the dead, from one town in middle America. Voices of joy, despair, vibrancy, love, fear, and regret fill the air at the Spoon River Cemetery. For me, this poem presents a great image of regret – a boat with furled sales at rest in the harbor. It can help students connect both to a particular voice and perspective and also rich metaphor.
- Quickwrite: Do you have regrets? Are you the kind of person who has regrets?
- Review the definition of a metaphor with students. It may help to help them just to know that it is a figure of speech (versus literal speech) where a comparison is drawn between two things. (A simile compares two things using the words “like” or “as”.) For example, calling a person “lion-hearted” describes them a curious, not as a freak of animal experimentation….
- Read the poem together with a focus of understanding the metaphor. Start at level 1, what is the poem saying? Who is narrating it? What is their mood and tone? What is the “marble” he speaks of? Move to deeper level questioning: What meaning do you make from the poem? What do you think it is saying – give two – three examples from the text to support your opinion?
- How does the text relate to your life? How does it relate to other texts that you’ve read, movies you’ve seen, or songs you’ve listened to?
Poem, “George Gray” by Edgar Lee Masters
64. George Gray
- Have students identify a metaphor for their life – have them sketch a picture of their metaphor. (or do a collage, sculpture, photo essay, etc.)
- Design your own Gravestone. Look at some models (see link below). What shape would you want to demonstrate your life? What words/information would you want on it?
- Write a journal entry about your dreams and goals – what do you want to accomplish in your life? Do you have regrets? About what? Have these changed your behavior in the future?
- Spoon River Anthology (other poems in the series by Edgar Lee Masters).
- Metaphor Definitions and examples
- Interesting Grave Stones