Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Buffalo Dusk






The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the
prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a
great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.








***
Hedgehog came home yesterday with this poem. For homework she had to answer some analytical questions about it. I asked her how the poem made her feel; she said "Mama, I was choked up with tears when I first read it." They are studying the prairies, the frontier, the Plains Indians, and the pioneers, and this is how they are doing it. This is what they do in their second grade classroom; and this is why I believe in progressive, unorthodox education for children, more strongly than I believe in almost anything else in the world.

Poem by Carl Sandburg, image by buckchristensen, Flickr Creative Commons

27 comments:

Queen Goob said...

Wait until she brings home a poem about the Indians.....or the Irish emigrants.

Karen ^..^ said...

I cried when I first learned about the buffaloes. The reasons behind the slaughtering of the buffaloes was even more sinister, and really made me question my patriotism for a while. But, much like slavery, our generation cannot be held accountable for what prior generations have done, and it is up to us to improve things. So my patriotism is once again, firmly in place.

Poor little Hedgehog.

Karen ^..^ said...

I totally butchered the English language in my comment above, and would like to correct it now, because I'm a dork:

The reasons behind the slaughtering of the buffaloes WERE even more sinister.

Derrrrrr.....

Old Knudsen said...

Buffaloes were killed to wipe out the injuns, what are you all going to do give back yer Manhattan apartments to them?

The Brits put Boer weemen and children into concentration camps to get to their men in South Africa which is were Hitler learned it from like where the Yanks learned how to kill too.

The new Irish emigrants have become Hispanic and not as fluffy and cute as buffaloes.

No one in power seems to learn from the past.

Leah said...

I didn't realize the poem was so political. I just thought it was about bison.


just kidding

ShutterSpy said...

Interesting poem.

Did you know America never had buffalo? They're actually American bison (Latin name: Bison bison).

Did you paint the picture at the top? It's nice :)

Leah said...

Shutterspy: true, but we've called them buffalo and bison interchangeably for so long that the words signify the same thing.

Megan said...

I believe in that kind of education too. I wish it didn't cost so damn much to get.

MJ said...

Things have changed since I was a wee girl and we learned to recite the following ditty...

There once was a man from Kildare
Who was screwing his wife on the stair.
When the Bannister broke
He quickened his stroke
And finished her off in mid air.

Queen Goob said...

All kidding aside - because hey, that's what I do - give Hedgehog a hug from me let her know there are still a few "buffalo" left. In fact, she can even buy one for her very own if she wants.

http://www.buffalogroves.com/buffalos_for_sale.html

Think it'll fit in her room?

Leah said...

Megan: it's completely unaffordable to regular folk, except for the fact that Hedgie's school, unlike many other NYC private schools, offers good scholarships to us non-richies...

MJ: What's wrong with that? I approve it!

QG: We looked at that site--it's incredible! The bison are so inexpensive!!!! It's the shipping fees that'll getcha.

The Idle Devil said...

It's a very thought-provoking poem and yes...makes one feel a bit sad even without knowing the history behind it.

Random Chick said...

Where is that school? I want my children to go there! The public schools out here in Californica SUCK!

I didn't study stuff like that until I was in College. And your daughter is in the 2nd grade? Awesome!

Skeeter said...

Hi Leah,

If you all ever get the chance, come out here to Oklahoma. The Monarch of the Plains is our tate animal. Yes, the great herds of buffalo of the middle 1800s are gone, but we have some pretty big ones still. They are big strong animals and are really something to see up close. We've got a herd of a couple thousand in the The Tallgrass Prairie up north. One of the largest herds is down south in the Wichita Mountains preserve. Here is a video of the buffalo. You can literally drive into this preserve and see the animals up close. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uxk4faIG95E

Let Hedgie know that some of us anyway, still value the buffalo and have made places where this wonderful animal can thrive.

Best wishes,

Skeeter

Leah said...

Skeeter: my sister actually told me, when I was sort of crying a little about that poem, that the bison were back--to make me feel a bit better--wow, I would love to take Hedgie to see that sight. We're planning on one of these years to take follow the pioneer path of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and maybe we'll incorporate that! Thanks so much for the link!

Leah said...

Idle Devil: The poem can be read politically, but it's just as powerful, if not more so, as a poem about the passing of generations, I think--yes, so sad, even without knowing the history behind it--

Leah said...

RC: I know, I love and adore Hedgie's school--I went there myself for 12 years! It's always so exciting to see what she'll bring home next.

Leah said...

Megan: can you believe I said "richies," isn't that, like, so "Pretty in PInk"?!?

leslie said...

Tell Hedgehog that the buffalo are coming back. Here in New Mexico Ted Turner's ranch has thousands of them... he breeds them. And there are very tight conservation ethics in place protecting them from being over-hunted ever again.

leslie said...

Heres a video link for one great view of Alan Rickman not in costume... I wish I knew how to do direct links but alas... I don't. So heres the URL... enjoy:

uk.youtube.com/watch?v=G7A_bJFZNXE

leslie said...

I know I know... this is my third post. Oh well... I need to tell you this... that I read your 100 things about me... and I would like to respond to your flying dreams. I have read that these dreams originate from our deepest memories of being lifted up out of our cribs when we were babies. Interesting isn't it? And makes a lot of sense.

Leah said...

Leslie: This is so funny, but not only did I link to that video, but I felt compelled to analyze it here.

I love it. Love it! I've even learned to love the song!

I also love the interpretation of our flying dreams. What an incredibly lovely thought! It makes sense, doesn't it?

muralimanohar said...

I hate that poem. It makes my heart hurt everytime.

Hurray for..what is it..progressive education?? Not dumbed down education, anyway. While I homeschool, not public or private school, that is what I am aiming for. Stuff that actually matters, in a way that actually has meaning.

Walker said...

The buffalo were the thunder of the praisies as the lightning is t he thunder of the skys.
We are slowly killing off the gods of nature aand replacing them with our memories.

Suzanne said...

I studied the buffalo in history, art history, architectural history and in art, but never in 2nd grade. Hedgie's a lucky little girl to learn so early that injustice exists in the world. Perhaps she'll be part of the solution. She cried. That's the first step. You're a great parent sweetie. I love you. XO

P.S. The comments are amazing. Great post!

Leah said...

Thank you all for the wonderful, wonderful comments here!

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