From Kids’ Play To Poetry

Leafing through the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, Sandra Simonds wonders what poets can learn from the form:

The first thing is that sound itself intoxicates and that we connect sound, rhythm, and rhyme to form very early on, probably from infancy. The music of language forms our understanding of the world and that is why it seems so fundemental, in poems, to follow the music and sounds over sense, and to trust that your ear will take you where you want to go. We also learn that language is deeply connected to play—riddles, jokes, nonsense, and, for lack of a better word, fun. But it is also wedded to tragic losses, lost time, lost childhood, the loss of the child itself and the body of the child. Even when we survive childhood, some part of us has fallen through the ice never to return. Children are connected to that loss too. They are constantly warned about strangers, about the instability of their surroundings, constantly reminded about how small they are. As poets, we take that smallness with us into adulthood and turn it into poetry.