Thursday, August 7, 2008

Poetry- For The Want of A Nail, Jimmy Jet And His TV Set, Knoxville Tennessee, And How Doth The Little Crocodile

For Want of A Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


A clever set of lyrics in "For want of a nail" encouraging children to apply logical progression to the consequences of their actions. "For want of a nail" is often used to gently chastise a child whilst explaining the possible events that may follow a thoughtless act. 

"For want of a nail" American usage
Benjamin Franklin included a version of the rhyme in his Poor Richard's Almanack when America and England were on opposite sides. 

During World War II, this verse was framed and hung on the wall of the Anglo-American Supply Headquarters in London, England.


Knoxville, Tennessee
By Nikki Giovanni

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy's garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
At the church
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep

Knoxville… Tennessee!!!



Lines 1 – 2

In each line of this poem, the speaker identifies something about summer. It is clear by the simplicity of language and affections that this speaker is not an adult but perhaps a child. It seems to be told from the point of view of a young person who is both nostalgic about a past summer spent and also looking forward to the return of summer's delights.

Lines 3 – 12

In these lines, the speaker focuses on the taste sensations of summer and the quality of abundance. The presence of the family patriarch is perhaps the only slightly political statement in the whole poem. This poem can be determined as political if one considers the times in which the author was writing this poem and the feeling that black men were under siege. Otherwise, having a "daddy" who has a "garden" could not be more natural to a child's memories.

Lines 13 – 17

Now, the speaker evokes a higher sensation, perhaps an almost spiritual quality to the memory by asking the reader to consider the "gospel music" and the tight-knit community centered on the "church." The fact that these lines fall in the center of the poem suggests that perhaps this is the heart and soul of the speaker's memory. The importance of this vision of a "homecoming" cannot be overlooked and can perhaps tell the reader that the speaker is not always in this earthly paradise.

Lines 18 – 24

Finally, the speaker makes the connection to the place itself. The place is identified by "mountains," which often represent truth or vision. That the speaker goes to this place with a grandmother re-enforces the idea that wisdom is somehow shared by osmosis. The way that the speaker connects to the time and place is like the feeling of a good dream and perhaps that is why the reader is taken to the end of the day, to "sleep."


How Doth The Little Crocodile 
By Lewis Caroll

How doth the little crocodile 
Improve his shining tail, 
And pour the waters of the Nile 
On every golden scale! 
How cheerfully he seems to grin!
How neatly spread his claws, 
And welcomes little fishes in 
With gently smiling jaws!

Opinion: Uh oh! Run fishies run!



"How Doth the Little Crocodile" is a poem by Lewis Carroll which appears in his novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It describes a crafty crocodile which lures fish into its mouth with a welcoming smile. "How Doth the Little Crocodile" is a parody of the moralistic poem "Against Idleness And Mischief" by Isaac Watts. Watts' poem begins "How doth the little busy bee," and uses a bee as a model of hard work. In Carroll's parody, the crocodile's corresponding "virtues" are deception and predation, themes which recur throughout Alice's adventures in both books, and especially in the poems.


Jimmy Jet And His TV Set
By Shel Silverstein

I'll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet --
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night
Till he grew pale and lean,
From "The Early Show" to "The Late Late Show"
And all the shows between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
And his bottom grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,
And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying "VERT." and "HORIZ."
Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
We all sit around and watch him.

Opinion: I don't watch TV much, but watching him would be quite interesting :[)


"Jimmy Jet And His TV Set" is a poem included in the book "Where The Sidewalk Ends", a children's poetry book, by Shel Silverstein. It is about a boy who watched TV all the time and didn't do anything else really, not even sleep! So after awhile, he turned into a TV!

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