I don’t think I’ve ever told you that one of my favorite poems (I do have a few ahem) is by Delmore Schwartz.
i am cherry alive
‘I am cherry alive,” the little girl sang,
“Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be someone new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be somone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too,
And I put it in along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing : It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit,
The pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong
When I sing my song,
But I don’t tell the grown-ups, because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up
And forgot what they knew
And they are sure
I will forget it some day too.
They are wrong. They are wrong.
When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold,
I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me,
I will always be new!”
I love the magic of this poem. It was posthumously published in 1979 as a picture book, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
The poem has been included in poetry anthologies for children. Apparently another picture book was published in 1995 with a different illustrator, but it is out of print.
Why is it considered a poem for children only? It’s certainly a wonderful poem for children, but also for adults. After all, we know that the little girl is wrong and she will forget–most of the time.
But we adults also know that we easily can be reminded to allow the child into our adult selves!
That’s why I love dolls and cats and theatre and digging in the sand with a plastic pail and shovel.
Playing reminds us that we can be tree, cat, blossom, and a witch in a zoo! Sound a lot like writing?
How do you feel about dividing poems into those for children and those for adults?