A Wilderness of Thought: Childhood and the poetic imagination

Richard Lewis in Orion Magazine:

The blur of light
conquers the dark.
I awake dazzled.

—David, age 11

THE WIND WAS SCURRYING across the streets of New York, and the children had just arrived at school. I’d recently begun working with children in poetry and drama, and that morning I had the good fortune of beginning my day in a large open space of a room with a group of ten-year-olds. We gathered ourselves in a small circle and spoke of the rush and impatience of the autumn air that seemed to have brought us there. I asked everyone to take their arms and imitate the wind’s movement, and it was instantly clear that we needed more elbow room—so I suggested we get up and move like the wind. What I thought might turn into bedlam was suddenly a wonderfully expressive dance in which each child’s arms and legs, hands and feet were turning and moving in individual ways, as if they had found something in the wind that they already knew. When it seemed appropriate to slow down, I asked everyone to find a space on the floor and, if the image of the wind was still clear to them, to write down what they had seen and felt.

My meadow is beautiful.
It has doves,
Morning Dew
And my laughter.


Mmm . . . I smell that smell. I feel like
a reindeer ready to rest in a free world,
waiting for my mother to feed me so I can


My meadow feels like
The gala of all meadows.
There are roses blooming,
Buttercups growing,
Daisies smiling,
Pansies swaying in the wind,
Black-eyed susans growing . . .


The slither of light is very beautiful.
As I look through it I can see the world.


More here.