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This is an idea to send Pocket Poems to our troops in times of war


Language Arts  



Title – Pocket Poems
By – Brooke Walleck
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 10th

This lesson is entitled Pocket Poems because it involves having the students work in groups to write poems and decorate them in order to send them to the soldiers in Iraq. Before writing the poems, I would have the students read the poem “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay, because this poem was given to British and American soldiers during World War II to carry in their pockets. Students should include an uplifting and appreciative message in their poems. They should use Claude McKay’s poem as an example. Students will present their poems to the class, and then the poems will be mailed to various soldiers in Iraq. If any students in the class know someone fighting in Iraq, then they may personalize the poem and mail it to them.

Claude McKay: If We Must Die (1919)

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Note from Claude McKay, a Jamaican, originally wrote this poem in 1919 in response to the lynchings and race riots that assaulted black neighborhoods after the end of World War I. It was credited with inspiring the Harlem Renaissance. Winston Churchill used this poem in speeches to inspire both British and American people in World War II.

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