There’s a Poem for That

I have found TED-Ed to be a great source of educational lessons presented in an easy to use set of animated videos. If you are not familiar with TED-Ed, here is a description from its web site:

TED-Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative. TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world. Everything we do supports learning — from producing a growing library of original animated videos , to providing an international platform for teachers to create their own interactive lessons, to helping curious students around the globe bring TED to their schools and gain presentation literacy skills, to celebrating innovative leadership within TED-Ed’s global network of over 250,000 teachers. TED-Ed has grown from an idea worth spreading into an award-winning education platform that serves millions of teachers and students around the world every week.

I have written about TED-Ed before, in particular after I had taken the 2016 TED-Ed 31-day challenge, which consisted of watching a 3-5 minute video each day during July and then answering a series of multiple choice and short essay questions on the topic. My favorite lesson was the one that looked at the ethical dilemmas of self-driving cars.

TED-Ed has just created a new set of lessons titled, “There’s a Poem for That”.

The creators note that certain experiences, such as homesickness or bereavement or your first kiss, transcend our rational understanding of the world. In such moments, they argue, we need poetry. “There’s a Poem for That,” pairs contemporary and classical poems with award-winning animators to help us all better understand the most inexplicable parts of life.

I’m a late newcomer to the world of poetry. I haven’t really understood many of the poems I have read, and so I just kind of gave up on it. Then I recently came across Mary Oliver’s work, and I could see the beauty in her words.

So I thought this new TED-Ed series would help me along in my poetic journey, but unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be.

I was already familiar with one of the poems, “The Road Not Taken“, and that was my favorite of the six poems that make up the first season of this series. However, since I had already written a blog about this poem, I didn’t learn too much from watching this video. However, I thought the animation was great, and the analysis of the poem afterward was quite good.

I watched the other five poems/videos in the series, and since poetry seems to be very personal, some I liked, others not so much. I’ll just pick one of them to share.

First, I’m not sure I would consider this a poem; it’s a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the famous “All the World’s a Stage”.

Here’s the animated video:

At the end of the video, there’s a link to a brief analysis of the “poem”, which is shown here:

I did find the analysis enjoyable and insightful. I would have never read this “poem” and noted the different sounds associated with the different stages of life. I’ll take it for granted that this is what Shakespeare meant to do with his choice of words, and it’s not just some academic trying to provide insight into something that’s not really there.

So I know more about All the World’s a Stage than I knew before I watched the video, so I guess you would consider the TED-Ed lesson a success.

I look forward to the next season, and perhaps focus on some classic poems and provide some insights that the casual poetry reader would not be aware of.

One thought on “There’s a Poem for That

  1. I hadn’t thought about poetry in that way, but you’re right. I agree with you that it’s not always insightful and that poem analysts are often pretentious.


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