What Is Poetry? Who Knows?

Oct 02, 2018 at 01:30 pm by Paulette Jackson


What is poetry? Who knows?
Not the rose, but the scent of the rose;
Not the sky, but the light in the sky;
Not the fly, but he gleam of the fly;
Not the sea, but the sound of the sea;
Not myself, but what makes me
See, hear and feel something that prose
Cannot: and what it is, who knows?
~Eleanor Farjeon

While we may not be able to define what poetry is, with the help of cognitive neuroscience, we can at least recognize the “primordial soup” of its beginning. It is a corollary domain integrating a synthesized collection of skills – of language, of music, the mind’s eye, implicit meanings and intimacies; coming together, creating a frame and giving us a picture – of life.

Like many mothers, I read to my children while they were in the womb. I wanted them to hear my voice. After they were born, I read to them as a way of bonding together.  When they could read for themselves, I read to them so we could chat and get to know each other’s friends.

As parents, reading to our children is one of the best ways to spend time with them. When we read to our children, we introduce them, not only to beloved characters and sometimes lifelong friends, but also to their imagination and resident “narrator on standby” for the story. And all this takes place in context with the most important relationship in their lives – that of a parent.

As a young mother, I found poetry to be a very enjoyable way to begin reading to my children. The simple childhood rhymes, not only contributed to the shaping of meaning but offered opportunities for memorizing verses, to have ready for sharing on a moment’s notice, to the delight of listeners.

One of my most favorite poems is a book titled, Snoozeroo. The Sandman’s Helper. Written by Eileen Daly and charmingly illustrated by Leslie Gray, it was published by the Gibson Company in 1968. It was also the first children’s book I purchased with an eye to expanding my personal collection.  A charming bedtime read for me, my children and now my grandchildren, I wanted to include the poem in this post so parents and children could be introduced to this delightful bedtime character. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Snoozeroo and even make a new friend. And maybe you will find an answer to the question, “What is poetry? Who knows?”


Has the sandman’s helper, Snoozeroo,
Ever come to visit you?
Sometime I think he really might –  
He stopped at my house just last night.
We played a magic bedtime game –
But wait! I’ll tell you how he came.

I was s’posed to go to bed,
But I just sat awhile instead.
I thought I’d wait and let my mother
Help me – after helping Brother.

And then I was surprised to see,
Right there in my room with me,
A little man dressed all in blue,
Who said he was a Snoozeroo.

He said he knew a special game,
Zip-Zap Chango! was its name
“I never did play that,” I said.
“It sounds more fun than going to bed.”

“Zip-Zap!” said he. "Take of a shoe,”
I did, and wondered what he’d do.

He put my shoe into a box,
Said “Zip-Zap!" – It became a….


He put the other in a dish.
Zip-Zap! Suddenly it was a …


Well, then I couldn’t wait to see
Whatever would my sweater be!
I put my sweater on a chair –  
Snooze turned it into a …


“I know you very well.” I said,
And tucked him, cozy, into bed.

Then Snooze fixed my T-shirt too!
Zip-Zap! It was a…


“I’ll make your jeans be something scary,
Something striped,” said Snooze, “and hairy,”
I closed my eyes and hid my head – Zip-Zap!
“Now look,” said Snooze, there on your bed.”

And there a little TIGER sat.
I laughed – and gave his ears a pat.

“My sox,” said I, “they’re still on me.
I wonder what you’ll make them be.”
"Zip-Zap!"  said Snooze. “Now let me see –     

We’ll make each sock a…

Well! By then we had a crowd –
More than really was allowed.
So I shook hands with everyone
And said, “I’m glad that you could come.
I sure do wish that you could stay.
But think, what would my mother say?”

“You’re right,” said Snooze. “You cannot wear
A sweater that’s a teddy bear.
And a t-shirt that’s a kangaroo
Would look quite odd, I think, on You!”

He changed back one – then another –   
And just in time! For I heard Mother.

“She won’t have very much to do,”
Said I to Snooze, “all thanks to you.”

“That’s right,” said Snooze, "but before I go,
There’s something else that you should know!

I’ve saved two special Zip-Zaps more.
So quick, before she’s at the door,
We’ll pop you – Zip-Zap! – into bed.

And now – Zip-Zap! – You are a….


For the Support of Your Life
For the Many Sides of Life
Paulette Jackson, LPC-MHSP


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