A variety of contemporary fabrics. From the le...

Fabrics, including velvet and silk


The inscription reads, “I hope you enjoy these poems. I have loved having you in my room. Mrs. Conaway.”

She wrote the inscription in printed letters.

She had signed the book at the top with her name. This was a book from her own personal library, printed in 1940.

It was 1954 and I was in second grade.

The poems are lovely. Rich, varied, detailed, they are illustrated with beautiful woodprint engravings.

I loved the sound of the names of the poets – Sarah Teasdale, Melville Cane, Fiona Macleod, Molly Capes.

I loved the sound of the poems in my head, like this one by Sara Teasdale:

The Falling Star

I saw a star slide down the sky,

Blinding the north as it went by,

Too burning and too quick to hold,

Too lovely to be bought or sold,

Good only to make wishes on

And then forever to be gone.


I loved the sadness just a few words could evoke, like this one by Countee Cullen, “a Negro himself and a distinguished gentleman.”

I Have Wrapped My Dreams in a Silken Cloth

I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth

And laid them away in a box of gold,

Where long may cling the lips of the moth;

I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,

I hide no hate; I am not even wroth

Who found life’s breath so keen and cold.

I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth

And laid them away in a box of gold.


I loved the surprise and redirection that a poem could take, like this one by Arthur J. Peel.


A dark, elusive shadow –

Trailing my pleasant way

Through thronging street, and meadow

All on a summer’s day.


But what care I for shadows!

Of substance, they have none;

And he who casts the shadows

Is walking in the sun!


Most of all, I loved the fact that a teacher had noticed me. Out of all her students, she had taken me aside privately to give me this personal gift.

In second grade, I was living in my fifth house, fourth city, and third state. I had left all my friends behind each time. We moved again at the end of the year.

The best gift of all was my teacher’s attention. Thank you, Mrs. Conaway.

If you would like to order the lovely anthology of children’s poetry, All the Silver Pennies, that combines Silver Pennies and More Silver Pennies, click here.

Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers