Last week, metaphors tiptoed into Room 204. They snuck into our third grade last Tuesday with Emily Dickinson, honored guest. We were reading one of her poems. Emily Dickinson wrote, “The morns are meeker than they were; the nuts are getting brown.” This is straightforward. But then she tells us, “The maple wears a gayer scarf.” This is less straightforward. We threw on our jackets and set out to find out what our new friend Emily was talking about. On the right October day this is not hard to do. Tuesday was the right October day.
We stood in front of Fox School and I pointed to a maple with a swath of orange color. “There,” I said, “I see a maple scarf, do you?” A few hands slowly went up.
“I think I do!”
We moved to another tree. More hands went up.
“I see the gayer scarf, too!”
“Look across the street, Mrs. Campbell! There is a scarf on that tree, too.”
We walked for a couple of blocks and found more “scarves” on maple trees.
“So,” I explained. “The maple tree doesn’t actually have on a scarf. That’s a metaphor for the swath of color on the maple tree in October. A metaphor sounds like it is one thing, but it is really telling us and helping us see something else.”
We picked up fallen leaves from the maple’s pavement collage beneath our feet. When we got back to school, we slipped into the Teachers Lounge (after I determined that the coast was clear), and made our own scarf of color by slipping our leaves into the laminator.
Metaphors tiptoed in with Emily Dickinson last week. They snuck in quietly, but we’ve invited them to stay. We stumble on them all the time, but they are never in the way. Welcome, Emily Dickinson. And welcome metaphors, we are glad you are here.
by Emily Dickinson
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown,
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown,
And lest I be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.