What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings

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Book Information

Reader Personality Type
Houghton Mifflin October 2013
  • Character-Building Curriculum
  • Language Arts Curriculum


you're not what everyone says:
some flashy friend
who shows up with fireworks,
trailing fame and glory.

You are more like a raindrop,
governed by mysterious principles.
You fall from the sky
and hit -- plop! -- with
a cool kiss of surprise.

Or maybe you're a heartbeat,
always there,
speaking in your low, soft voice,
pumping, warming, strengthening
under the surface of things,
just doing your work.

Happiness, you're like a breeze
sucked in by eager lungs.
You fill and feed us,
and yet somehow, in the exhale,
you are shared.

So come,
come to us, Happiness.
Bathe us with your cool spray.
Fill us with your splendid breath.
Help us do your work."

In her Note to Readers, Joyce Sidman explains that  the poems contained
here "are words to speak in the face of loneliness,  fear, delight, or
confusion."  She notes that,

"We may no longer believe that words can make crops grow,  prevent illness,
or keep rivers from flooding.  But we still believe in the  power of the
words themselves.  Why else would we sing, pray, or  write?"

This collection is presented in four sections: Chants &  Charms; Spells &
Invocations; Laments & Remembrances; and  Praise Songs & Blessings.  Each
section begins with Ms. Sidman defining  these pairs of terms.

What I love about these poems as a collection are their  universality of
feelings.  They repeatedly transcend time and place.   If you overlook the
inclusion of phones amidst the objects mentioned in the  fun poem "INVITATION
TO LOST THINGS," this entire collection could  arguably have been written to
those of a generation or two in the past or  to those in the future.  Talk
about the power of words!  It is a  collection that will be embraced on one
end by literary middle school  kids and by plenty of adults on the other end.

I'd read A LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL SET YOU FREE a half-dozen  times,
before finally scribbling down the words on a card and  sticking it in my wallet
to memorize.  One after another, there  are poems here that are worth

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA

See more of his picks:  Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ (http://richiespicks.com/)


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