We have been discussing the relationship between Billie-Jo and her father in our novel. Students will read this poem about manhood and farming (and larger ideas) and then contrast the poem (and its couplets and rhyme) with the current song about the dust bowl and the desperation of one man. Students will be reminded of the page in the novel where Billie-Jo says that trees aren’t meant to be on the plains, and wonders if the people are likewise in a place they cannot survive.
“Good Timber” by Douglas Malloch
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
The song is told with theatrical flair that belies Mumford’s affinity for the theatre. It’s a Disney villain’s explanatory number; that song in the musical that really knocks it out of the park. As such it’s been the band’s live closer for years. ” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hBkeX3k48M
Students will interpret the lyrics and write a more detailed story that retells or reinterprets the song. This story should be at least one page long, in 12-point, Times New Roman font. Students should type the story in the computer lab. If finished, they can print the paper and pass it in to me. If not done in the time allotted, they should finish this assignment at home, for homework.
Students may answer a series of “What If” questions about the novel. These will be provided in class. Again, if these are not answered in class, they should be done as homework.
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” E.B.White