Students love these poems and it is great first poetry comparison, because it is easy for students to notice the initial similarities and get the confidence they need to dig a little deeper. They are also both great poems for exploring personification. The first poem appears in many literature textbooks: “Identity” by Julio Noboa Polanco. The second is “The Rose That Grew from Concrete” by Tupac. They are both about tough flowers 😉
“Identity” by Julio Noboa Polanco
Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.
I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.
To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.
I’d rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they’re praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.
I’d rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed.
“The Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
- Why do you think both poets used FLOWERS as the topic of their poems?
- Why do you think the poets relied heavily on personification?
- How do the poems share similar themes? How are they different?