Then fiddle." One must fight before fiddling for two reasons.

This idea is most evident in the poem's final sentence: "Rise bloody, maybenot too late / For having first to civilize a space / Wherein to play yourviolin with grace." Though on first read it seems like this sentence repeatsthe warning to fight before it is "too late," its language has a numberof negative connotations that undercut this exhortation.

 When you think about analysis, try thinking about how you might analyze a car.

Moreover, if warinherently makes even "civilized" people uncivil because of its brutality,war's final achievement in the poem--"a space / Wherein to play your violinwith grace"--seems heavily ironic.


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Back the my seventh graders' review task, I make the next step harder by pointing out to them the formula that Cleary uses with his title: "to" and a one-syllable verb + "to" and a one-syllable verb + "to" and a three-syllable verb--and it makes for a nice rhythm when you read it aloud. I offer them a writer's notebook challenge, which I offer extra credit for every month to every student who accepts the challenge, that I want to see--at least--three "Tri-Verb Rhyming Comics." They follow the syllable pattern that Cleary used exactly, and they have to include a picture that helps me to visualize the narrative story they would tell based on their three verbs. For , which is now a cherished page in my fancy writer's notebook, I have five examples, and I still don't know which one I like the best; I think each of them could become charming stories in their own way. Remember, that's the purpose of a good writer's notebook: to house potential ideas (no matter how short) that can become fun pieces of more detailed writing later on.


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The first hypothesis of the poem, that one can fight andthen fiddle--that is, that once can fight and put the war out ofone's mind by playing beautiful music--has been replaced by a recognitionthat one cannot deny the violence that made beauty possible.

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Diction - word choice that both conveys and emphasizes the meaning or theme of a poem through distinctions in sound, look, rhythm, syllable, letters, and definition

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Look for: Connections, links, and clues between and about characters. Ask yourself what the function and significance of each character is. Make this determination based upon the character's history, what the reader is told (and not told), and what other characters say about themselves and others.

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This conclusion is striking since violin playing in the poem seems notonly to provide a metaphor for artistic creation generally, but also writingpoetry in particular.