Ode to Bicycles

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May 31, 2011 by WITS Editor

Roger on Richland Avenue with Schwinn Bicycle

Image by roger4336 via Flickr

When WITS writers teach a lesson, they don’t have to look far for inspiration.  WITS writers understand that everything in the world is up for grabs when it comes to engaging subject matter. We encourage children to look at the world around them and pick objects and activities that resonate with what they like to do.

I remember one 3rd grade boy named Sebastian who could never think of new subject matter.  He often complained that he didn’t want to write “dumb poems about flowers and stars.”  So, I asked him what he liked to do and found out he loves to ride his bike. The following week I brought him a poem called “Ode to Bicycles” by Pablo Neruda.  Neruda’s poem didn’t have a magical effect on Sebastian’s poetic output (he still had a hard time getting started), but it did seem to surprise him.

May is National Bicycle Month, and I always think of Sebastian and wonder where he is and what he is writing about as a teenager.  In honor of Sebastian, here is another bicycle poem.

Maybe Alone On My Bike

I listen, and the mountain lakes

hear snowflakes come on those winter wings

only the owls are awake to see,

their radar gaze and furred ears

alert. In that stillness a meaning shakes;

And I have thought (maybe alone

on my bike, quaintly on a cold

evening pedaling home), Think!–

the splendor of our life, its current unknown

as those mountains, the scene no one sees.

O citizens of our great amnesty:

we might have died. We live. Marvels

coast by, great veers and swoops of air

so bright the lamps waver in tears,

and I hear in the chain a chuckle I like to hear.

By William Stafford

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools

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Writers in the Schools (WITS)


Writers in the Schools (WITS) is the #1 arts education organization in Texas. With 80 writers and educators on staff, WITS reaches over 23,000 students a year in classrooms, community centers, museums, parks, and hospitals.

The glory of WITS is best expressed by the students--in their own words -- so this blog features essays, stories, and poems that were created by K-12 students in our program. All material (c) Writers in the Schools 2007-2013. If you wish to republish this work, please credit both the organization and the author and link back to this site. This material may not be used in commercial ventures of any kind.

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