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On March 20 and 21, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be presenting Carnival of the Animals, a concert designed for schools and families with children ages 5 and up. In addition to presenting an exciting program of classical music, including Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals and excerpts from Stravinsky’s The Firebird, the concert will feature poems written by students participating in Hands On Stanzas, a program presented by the Poetry Center of Chicago. These poems will be narrated by CPS students during the concert, accompanying the performance of The Carnival of the Animals.

See below for poems by seventh grade students from Taft High School. Their poems are focused on many different animals, including the lion and the swan, and were all inspired by the parallel movements in Saint-Saëns’ piece.

“Wild Horses” by Olivia Diaz

The music was like a black and white cartoon, the stomping of the horses, running for their lives. Heads turning, to see the blackness trying to swallow them whole. Eyes widening, while they simply ran. They ran and ran until they could no more. Until the darkness caught up and the lights in their eyes burned out.

“Waking Swan” by Mikaila P.

A flower.
   The sun.
   Water.
   The ingredients to a waking swan.

   The petals unfold the swan awakens.
                                   Head.    Neck.    Shoulders.    Torso.    All up.

          First step, plié, leap.
        Watch it glide as it moves on,
   After waking.

“Lions” by Payton K.

They march,
The lions march
Slowly, under the arch.

It’s a parade
Slowly, in the mist,
They fade away.

They continue to march
`Till they see their prey,
The tasty deer.
Front marchers roar,
Others scowl,
they catch the deer
for the pride
of lions:
The Marching Lions

As they press on,
A figure appears.
A man:
A hunter.
Both stay still
for a moment or two.
Until the lions and the hunter leave
To continue their ways.
Since a quarrel
Isn’t how problems get solved

“Swans” by Payton K.

Swans fly through the air
Like they don’t even care.
They fly and make designs
Like the Blue Angels would.

They fly into a heart shape.
Then disperse into space.
They return in a heart shape.
Then, out of the blue,
A plane passes.

“Old Swan” by Jake Stevens

There is a swan sitting on a train
the swan sits through snow and rain
the swan sits through life and pain
he sees relationships bloom
he sees relationships pass
he sees a young boy filled with excitement
turn into an old crippled man about to die
he sees little young lonely girls
get into relationships
he sees lots of lives come
and he sees lots of lives go
he sees a homeless guy get a job
he sees a girl fulfill her dream
he sees companies rise
he sees companies fall
he sees a kid go to preschool
he sees the same kid graduate college
the swan has lived long…
through his years he’s seen lots of things
but most of all…
he sees
hope.

“Fossil” by Marcus Welu

The pile of
bones rise.
They form
together to create
a figure.
The bones form
a human skeleton.
The skeleton begins
to dance.
He uses
his hands as drumsticks
against his ribcage.
The skeleton
continues dancing.
He starts to float.
He is rising.
He is flying.
He is now
flying around the
room in a circle.
Even though
he is flying,
he continues to
dance his
non-existent heart out.
As he
bangs his hands
against his ribcage,
both of his feet
crack.
The fracture
travels up his body,
and all the way
to his skull.
His body
disintegrates,
leaving his lonely
skull floating
in the air.
He is smiling
as he crumbles
to dust.

“Running Wild Horses” by Megann Lawlor

Running wild horses
Wait theres a bread stand
Horses eating bread while sitting
At a table, while wearing a bow tie and top hat
WAIT! Horses don’t eat bread or wear clothes

Running Wild Horses
(with bread in their mouths and bow ties on their necks)
OH HAY! two horses give each other “the look”
Time for an old fashioned hoof fight
The fight begins
Left punch, Right punch
It’s getting nastier than a horse’s stall after dinner
Hold your horses! Wild Horses don’t fist fight
Running wild horses

“That Piano Party For Pianists” by Megann Lawlor

Pianists dancing with one another
Making music by stepping on keys
Looking in the distance
theres a house, no its a boot
It’s a giant boot
Every pianist head turns in unison

The running of the pianists
has begun to the mysterious boot
which surprisingly is filled up with pianos
all pianists grab a seat and play piano

Shaking and shaking
Music growing louder and louder
Until, it’s an earthquake of tune
triggering an eruption of pianists
And they all explode up in cheer
and rain down with their fingers still on the keys
As if they are glued to those keys

They land and are on the ground
Forming a monkey? a lion?
No, of course, a PIANIST!
Boom! A giant piano fit for all the pianists in the world
Arose suddenly from the ground
LA FA DA LA
The sounds of a giant man playing a giant piano

“Lions” by Krishnachai Nimmalagadda

The pounding sun passed through the savannah
as one, no two, no four of the beasts came
Briskly walking, they held their heads in pride
As the lions growled the other beasts moved their mouths away
From the ground that the lions marched through

The other lions joined in, males females and cubs too
their chortles laughs and growls echoed through the trees
as the paws pounded the dirt. Past the grass, next to trees, over mountains
All of them bowed as the lions passed through

All the animals are bound to be consumed, the only one that was freed from this curse?
Of course the lions were the ones, and they knew this too
as they marched past all the others while zebras and cheetahs ran off and
so did everyone else, until even the earth was scared and bowed down
as the lions marched through

“Swan” by Krishnachai Nimmalagadda

The water was neatly laden, with everything fresh and clear
ripples flashed past lily pads, bridges and the rocks
as an angel came, gliding through, barely touching the water it floated on
Its brilliant yellow lips and black mask hid the true beauty of its grace

It was quick, fast and powerful as it travelled over the waters and spread its wings
The other animals leapt, within scared of the form which would undoubtedly render their bodies frail and weak, so they kept under the ripple but stared above in awe
wishing they could be as careless as the angel was, free flowing and fast moving
Plans were imminent on the angels mind, it was not simply free, it waved its wings
slow at first but fast then speedy then quick and as take off was imminent suddenly

The arrow that Fate had guided met with the Angel’s heart. It clutched it as the red blood came pouring out
Fate wanted the angel to stay, gently in his arms and not allow her to go.
The angel cried a little but soon Fate heard a laugh. A laugh was heard coming from its lips.

The water became filthy and tarnished but she didn’t care as the wings revved.
They revved as Fate looked through wide popping eyes as the bird rose. Past the sky
Past the sun until her wings became too tired
So she rested upon a star and stared down with the view of Fate and the animals observing her in glory.