I do teach things intentionally and with malice aforethought, but the organic teachable moments are more fun. Our household tends to be eclectic as to which genre or century we’re inhabiting at any given moment. This day, we talked about Marius and Sulla for history (1st century BC Rome), the soundtrack from A Knight’s Tale (set in the 14th century, England and France), and Elizabethan poetry (late sixteenth century, England). Then I used that to teach a poetic meter, which we used to analyze our Bible verse of the week.
It all started with Elizabethan poetry. I began the morning by ranting to Jonathan about a thing somebody put on Facebook. I think people shouldn’t make emotional arguments on Facebook that don’t stand up to rational thought, so there, and I pointed to Raleigh, Donne, Spenser, Shakespeare, and the others as counterexamples. Their poems were their social media. Other than that, the conversation didn’t matter much, except it reminded me there was poetry in the world.
In the afternoon, I put on the soundtrack for A Knight’s Tale, that incredibly random medieval sports movie from about 15 years ago with Heath Ledger and Alan Tudyk. The first track is Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Everyone should know that song, as a matter of cultural literacy, but apparently my people hadn’t heard it before. Meg reverted to her classical music training and analyzed instruments. My favorite moment was when she exclaimed with delight, “Electric guitar!” So we listened, and Meg did workbooks while I chopped things for dinner, and we got on with life.
Then the girls put on a dress-up show. I don’t know whether she was inspired by the playlist or not, but Meg’s costume was a knight in pink high heels. Kate wore a red Chinese suit with a sparkly bunny mask.
The second to last item on our school list was “Practice memory verse.” This week, we’re on Psalm 35:9, which begins resoundingly with, “Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord.” Great stuff. I snagged Meg in the hall and we chanted it vigorously two or three times. I got into the rhythm of the thing and said, “It has a kind of poetry to it,” a remark I produced because Firefly quotes bypass any sort of thinking centers in the brain. Meg went back to her crafting. Then my inner humanities major woke up and said, “Wait a minute, it does have poetic meter! What is that one called? It’s not iambic. It’s not Anabaptist. I don’t think it’s that one, Virgil used it, sounds like pterodactyls?”
I wandered into the living room and asked Jonathan, and he agreed the poetic foot was not Anabaptist either, nor partridge, parsnip, or parsley. Super helpful. But Pirates quotes don’t require brainpower either, so that was a fair comment. I went and looked it up on Wikipedia. “Anapest.” The word was “anapest.” The other word that this meter wasn’t was “dactyl.”
“Meg, my dear, come here. I want to bequeath some knowledge to you.” I called. And she put down her craft and came without even complaining.
“Do you remember the song I played earlier, the one that goes thump-thump-CLAP?”
Meg nodded, and since they couldn’t miss an opportunity to beat on the table, she and Kate both came and whacked. Thump, thump, CLAP. Thump, thump, CLAP. Thump, thump, CLAP.
“Okay, stop. STOP! Do you know what the name of that rhythm is?”
Nobody knew. That was reassuring, because it would have been embarrassing if they had known and I didn’t. But there was an outside chance they’d heard about anapests in Peg + Cat.
“It’s called an anapest.” I started thumping and clapping again while reciting the name. “An—a—PEST! An—a—PEST! An–a–PEST!”
Meg laughed. “Is it an Annabeth? Or an Annabelle? No! It’s an Anna-PEST!”
“And do you know what else has that rhythm? Our memory verse!” I started banging on things again. “Then my SOUL! Will re-JOICE! In the LORD! And do you remember what that meter is called?”
Meg looked at me blankly. “No?”
There. Education happened. We can all go to bed now.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images courtesy of Carolyn Bales.