Featured Poem: What if you Slept? by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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This week we have a wonderful Reader Story from Reader in Residence Laragh behind our Featured Poem, What if you Slept? by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

For two days a week I’m a Reader in Residence in primary schools. This has been quite a learning curve for me, the children are generally so excited to be out of class that trying to strike the right balance between “not being a teacher” whilst maintaining enough control and focus to ensure that shared reading can actually happen can be difficult.

Last week though something amazing happened.

The week before I’d read Coleridge’s poem What if you slept? with two children in year 3, Alex and Morgan* – a boy and a girl who are class mates but I don’t think great friends. They’d responded well to it at the time and I thought nothing more of it. When I went to collect them from their class the following week though they excitedly, skippingly, greeted me with ‘Can we bring our poems?’.

Already I was somewhat amazed.

They both wanted to read it again to me and each did so beautifully, then they said ‘We just keep reading it to each other! We don’t know why!’

This innocence and love for a poem was such a privilege to witness I was genuinely astounded. Alex said he had taken it home and read it with his mum and his sister, who’d then read it back to him so nicely that he’d nearly fallen asleep. In a world full of distractions this poem had stayed with them all week, even survived being taken home and brought back to school again. I was in awe of these two, who in previous sessions I’d struggled even to get to sit down, now literally poring over a poem and doing so together. Thank you, Coleridge!

It made me think of Rose’s Reader Story from The Big Give campaign when she said ‘It puts something in your mind’.

It does. I think I saw it happen here.

What if you slept?

What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
Ah, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge


* The Reader change the names of all individuals in our Reader Stories for anonymity.

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