Poetry for 8th Graders
“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe – My students love studying this, even if they’ve read it before. I use Poe’s “Philosophy of Composition” to help them understand one poet’s view of his craft. In this essay, Poe explains how he creates a poem, and he uses “The Raven” as his example. One of the extremely rare instances where a poet explains the meaning, symbolism and theme of his or her poem. I’ve prepared a four-page outline of the essay that you can download from Scribd if you think it might be useful for you.
“The Seven Ages of Man” from As You Like It by William Shakespeare – I pair this dramatic monologue with the song “100 Years” by Five for Fighting. They complement each other well, and using the modern song helps to engage the students.
“George Gray” by Edgar Lee Masters – This is a great poem to use to get students talking about their fears and ambitions. If you use my Dead Poets Society Teaching Unit, “George Gray” would fit right into it.
“The Lady of Shallot” and “The Highwayman” – I play Loreena McKennit’s versions of these poems before we read them, and I use Waterhouse’s painting of the Lady of Shalott to enhance their experience. The songs can be found on two of McKennit albums, The Book of Secrets and The Visit.
There are others that I teach, but these seem to resonate most with my eighth graders.