Poetry Friday: “In A Museum”

I was incredibly fortunate to spend four days this week at the Yale Center for British Art‘s Summer Teacher Institute. The goal of this Institute was to provide teachers with strategies for incorporating visual literacy into their classrooms. This is something I have been working on for many years, but my experience at Yale opened my eyes to new ways of supporting literacy with visual arts. In my final reflection, I stated that although school has just ended, I can’t wait for school to begin again so I can share all I learned with my colleagues and students.

The entire, vast collection at YCBA resonates with poetry. We spent hours with individual paintings, delving into the stories they tell. I’m still a little overwhelmed with all I saw and learned, and am grateful to have a few uninterrupted weeks to process the information and strategies the amazing instructors shared with us. This poem, by Thomas Hardy, begins to capture my experience.

“In a Museum”
by Thomas Hardy


Here’s the mould of a musical bird long passed
from light,
Which over the earth before man came was winging;
There’s a contralto voice I heard last night,
That lodges in me still with its sweet singing.


Such a dream is Time that the coo of this ancient bird
Has perished not, but is blent, or will be blending
Mid visionless wilds of space with the voice that
I heard,
In the full-fuged song of the universe unending.

“Tail piece to The Nightingale” by Alfred W. Cooper, via Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Please be sure to visit Diane Mayr at Random Noodling for the Poetry Friday Roundup.



15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “In A Museum”

  1. First off, again, can’t believe we both shared Hardy today. Wow! Second, what a gorgeous poem. And third, I need to take that class! I love YCBA, but haven’t been since their recent renovation. Can’t wait to go back in August, but I’ll look into that class for another time, Catherine. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, my. How beautiful. And, it sounds like great learning. I’m always energized by good learning. Gosh, I hope I give students energy too. Thomas Hardy has popped up a couple of times this week. I am enjoying the introduction. He had a love of observation, didn’t he? Lovely post. I look forward to more tidbits.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, another Thomas Hardy poem, and so lovely. Your institute sounds like a marvelous time, Catherine. We thought that the visual was so important in our curriculum, from the youngest on, hence the consistent work in field journals. Here’s an older Heineman book I thought was valuable: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/articulating-pamela-b-childers/1117829599/2674780967365?st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Marketplace+Shopping+Textbooks_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP20421&k_clickid=3×20421

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  4. I have long loved ekphrasis since I first learned of it from a poetry mentor years ago. I take my students for field trips to art galleries and museums to write about the art. Do you know the book Heart to Heart edited by Jan Greenberg? So many ways to enter a piece of art through writing. I want to hear more about your institute.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds perfectly delightful! I’ll bet you have material for hundreds of ekphrastic poems. Plus, you have the whole rest of the summer to write them. We can’t wait to read them!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. […] One frustration I often have after attending workshops or conferences during the school year is that when I get back to school, I’m immediately caught up in day-to-day demands. This leaves little time to process and implement what I’ve learned. Presenters always advise to “pick one strategy or activity” to weave into your practice, but this too can be a challenge. So I’ve loved having some uninterrupted time to process my learning from the four days I spent at the Yale Center for British Art, which I wrote briefly about here.  […]


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