Thursday, March 24, 2011

Social Studies Poetry: I Never Saw Another Butterfly


Volavkava, Hana. (1978). I never saw another butterfly: children's drawings and poems from Terezín concentration camp 1942-1944. New York, NY: Schocken Books. ISBN: 0805205985.


This is a book that contains drawings and poems from the children of the Terezín Concentration Camp during the years of 1942-1944. The poems give the reader a first hand observation of experiencing the Holocaust through the eyes of the children victims. While the poems and drawings are expressive about the human atrocities they witness and experienced, I found a delicate beauty present when some of the poems focused on the beauty of nature from a child's perspective. The book finishes with acknowledging the poets and illustrators by giving the reader a brief synopsis of their lives. Unfortunately many of these children perished in the Holocaust and due to this subject matter I would only recommend this book for older teens. This book would be a great addition for a social studies curriculum in an educational setting and should be made available in both public and school libraries.


"The Butterfly"

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
against a white stone...

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high
It went away I'm sure because it wished to
kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here,
In the ghetto.

Introducing the Poem:

This was a very captivating poem and was selected due to the artistic tones and subject matter. I would instruct students (high school) to listen to the word and reflect in their journals what they feel the author's message was. Also this is a good way to have students journal about any hardships they may have experienced due to their religious beliefs, ethnicity, economic status, etc. Another great activity would be to have students write their feelings in a poetic shape of a butterfly.

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