Kaiser Wilhelm II was the leader of Germany prior to and during the war. The following is a poem found among the WWI letters belonging to my family. A Google search showed that it was printed in a newspaper in 1918. It must have been copied and saved by either Jessie or Mildred, her daughter. I'm not sure why whoever copied it down thought it was so important, but they took the time to type it out and save it. Now 100 years later, I'm discovering and appreciating it's historical significance. The original text of the poem was found on the Somme battlefield in 1916 by Ernest Plaine, but the author is unknown. Whoever the author was, they clearly despised the Kaiser. The idea that the Kaiser and Satan were in league together shows a strong hatred on the part of the writer. As the poem goes on though, you can feel the shift from anger and hatred to pride in the American soldier and the sense justice they were fighting with. Studying things like this helps historians understand the mindset of those living at that time. Please read the poem below and notice the strong emotions it congers up. Note: I prefer to read poetry aloud. It helps me grasp the flow and sound the author intended.
I love words. Really. I get super excited about them. My excitement would sometimes illicit eye rolls or groans from students, but that didn't slow me down. If the teacher isn't enthusiastic about vocabulary instruction how can the students be? I've read multiple books about the English language, books about language development in children, even a book about the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary, who's title contained the words "murder and insanity" so that was a must read. My love language is words of affirmation. I even made a list of my favorite words, just to see them on the page. I adore the way some words sound when spoken aloud. The pronunciation and sound of certain words is just requires them to be spoken.
Have I convinced you I'm a big nerd yet? Anyway, I decided to share my favorite words with you each Wednesday. (Why Wednesday? Well, without doubt, I have a weakness for alliteration.)
Today's Word: Undulate
Three syllables, rhymes with rate or eight. It could also be pronounced to rhyme with lit or bit, but the first is my personal favorite. According to my handy dandy OAD (Oxford American Dictionary) undulate is verb with two meanings: 1) move with a smooth wavelike motion 2) have a wavy form or outline.
The first time I remember reading this word was in Jack Prelutsky's book If Not For the Cat, a collection animal riddles in haiku. He uses the word to describe the movements of the jellyfish and it is beautiful. I can't print his poem here, but really, just check the book out of the library or get yourself a copy.
Recently, I visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California, which was stunning and packed with fascinating creatures. The creatures I couldn't get enough of were the jellyfish. All I could think of was UNdulate, UNdulate, UNdulate. It even sounds like wave like motion. Below are a couple of videos I took of the entrancing jelly fish at the aquarium. I tried to take photos, but it was their movements that made them so intriguing to watch.
Parents, when you are out and about with your little ones, look for times like these to teach new words. Your children are much more likely to remember a wonderful word like undulate because you said it while watching jellies at the aquarium or hearing the wailing of a siren. Children are never too young to hear big words. If they misuse them that can be corrected, but hearing more words even at very young ages can increase verbal understanding and abstract processing.
As we explore marvelous words together, I look forward to hearing from other word nerds about their favorite words and how they acquired them. Vocabulary doesn't have to be a boring class with memorized definitions. Word lovers unite!
This poem was written about 100 years ago. Poor young maid! I would probably endanger a loved one's life by knitting too.
By Our Office Boy
A youngish maid with beautiful map--
She knit her beau a beanie cap.
She waited till she found a chance,
Then sent it to her beau in France.
He put it on, out in the rain,
And soon his head began to pain.
It pained some more, alas, alack,
And then his head began to crack.
They found him there and thought him dead--
The beanie cap still on his head.
With chisels then they pried it loose;
The yarn she used, it had been punk;
The beanie cap, how it had shrunk.
The doctor says to tell his gal
That he can leave the hospit-al
Some time next fall, and well, perhaps,
But he must shun all beanie caps.
O maid, if you must do your bit,
Go drive a truck, but please don't knit.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."