For My Children by Colleen McElroy

1914-1945 Disillusion, Defiance and Discontent literature of the Modern Age
Nikki Nicholson
May 6,2014
1st Period
English 111 Honors
Ms.Nell Burwell

Your message...

Political Events

  • World War 1 in Europe
  • Bolshevik revolution brings Lenin to power and created the USSR as a communist nation
  • Following the Walls treat Crash, The Great Depression afflicts global capitalism
Global Economic Crisis in Depression

Political Events

  • World Was 1 ends
  • Representation of the People Act (Equal Franchise Act)
  • Italy Invades Ethiopia
  • Spanish civil war pits Fascist General Franciso against the falling Spanish Republic
Italy Envades Ethiopia

Social Events

After France surrenders to Germany, Hitler visits parts for the first and only time

Battle of Britian is fought in the skies over the English channel

Battle of France
"On this day June 22,1940 France surrenders to Nazi Germany" Hitler Stated

Social Events

  • Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa the invasion of the Soviet Union
  • Nazi Germany declares war on US; US declares war on Germany

The Biography of Colleen McElroy

An "Army Brat" McElroy spent much other youth on the move, living in Missouri, Wyoming and Germany- and she never seems to have stopped moving. she received her BA, from Kansas State University and then headed to Pennsylvania to study speech and language. Next, she headed West, receiving a PhD in ethnoliguistic from the University of Washington. She stayed there to teach English, but was still always on the move traveling to Europe, South America, Japan, Africa, the South Pacific, and Southeast Asia. McElroy began writing seriously when she was in her 30's. Her first collections of poems, The Mules Done Long Since Gone, was published in 1973.

Colleen McElroy

She continued both writing and teaching and in 1983 she became the first black woman to be made a full professor at the University of Washington. In 1985, her collection Queen of the Ebony Isles received the American Book Award. Colleen McElroy has also written short stories and plays including a drama about Harriet Tubman, but is best known as a poet. She retired from teaching but still write and travel.

McElroy spent much of her youth time in Missouri, Wyoming and German
Received the American book award

Elements of Poetry
Lyric Poem-Poetry that expresses observations and feelings of a single speaker
Speaker-Colleen McElroy express nature of childhood
Point of View-1st person
Free Verse- No rhyme, no end rhyme, internal or approximate

Elements of Poetry

  • Image- I see the link between the Mississippi and the Congo. (Line 37)
  • Sense- See
  • Image- So i search for a heritage beyond St.Louis. (Line 6)
  • Sense- See
  • Simile- My past is a slender dancer reflected briefly like a leopard in fingers of fire. (Line 14)
  • Metaphor- The future of Dahomey is a house of 16 doors. (Line 16)
  • Personification- The sun dances a honey and cocoa duet on your faces. (Line 34)
  • Symbol- The hallway represented her travel back in time to remember those moments of her childhood, her past, her heritage, and most of all her history. (Line 26)

"For My Children"

I have stored up tales for you, my children

My favorite children, my only children;

Of shackles and slaves and a bill of rights.

But skin of honey and beauty of ebony begins

In the land called Bilad as-Sudan,

So I search for a heritage beyond St.Louis

My memory floats down a long narrow hall,

A calabash of history.

Grandpa stood high in Watusi shadows

In this land of yearly rituals for alabaster beauty;

Where effigies of my ancestors are captured

In Beatle tunes.

And crowns never touch Bantu heads.

My past is a slender dancer reflected briefly

Like a leopard in fingers of fire.

The future of Dahomey is a house of 16 doors,

The totem of the Burundi counts 17 warriors--

In reverse generations

While I cling to one stray Seminole.

My thoughts grow thin in the urge to travel

Beyond Grandma's tale

Of why cat fur is for kitten britches,

Past the wrought-iron rail of first stairs

In baby white shoes,

To Ashanti mysteries and rituals.

Back in the narrow hallway of my childhood.

I cradled my knees

In limbs as smooth and long as the neck of a bud vase,

I began this ancestral search that you children yield now

In profile and bust

By common invention, in being and belonging,

The line of your cheeks recalls Ibo melodies

As surely as oboe and flute.

The sun dances a honey and cocoa duet on your faces.

I see smiles that mirror schoolboy smiles

In the land called Bilad as- Sudan;

I see the link between the Mississippi and the Congo.


Tales of the speakers childhood was told and heritage was searched for to help tell it to her children. The goodness of life and what is or should be made out of it. This poem is almost like a story in itself, speaking of her past and how much she enjoyed it. This basically is expressing her feelings upon her heritage, and also the observations she has made from the past. It is also from a single speaker.

Enrichment Activity

Figure of Speech Worksheet

Tell whether the sentence is a.........




      A simile is a word that compares words in a sentence using like or as.

     A metaphor is a word that compares without using like or as.

     Personification is giving human qualities to non human things.

Directions- Describe each of the following sentences as personification, simile, or metaphor.

  1. Mark's voice is velvet.-____________

  2. Mary was as sweet as strawberry creme pie.-__________

  3. Tom is like a computer when he does his math.-_________

   4.The chocolate cake was calling my name.-________________

    5.The stars sang to us from the night sky.-_____________

    6. George is lighting as he runs the race.-____________

    7.The cat's fur was a blanket of warmth.-_____________

    8.Kim ate her salad like a vacuum cleaner.-___________

    9.His arms were weak and felt like noodles.-___________

     10.The fire roared to life.-___________


Works Cited

"Battle of France - Google Search." Battle of France - Google Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"Colleen J. McElroy." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"December 7, 1941 Through Your Ancestors’ Eyes." Ancestrycom Blog December 7 1941 Through Your Ancestors Eyes Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"Germany." Operation World. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"Global Economic Crisis into Depression: The Globally-Integrated Capitalism Has Created Globally-Integrated Catastrophe - Nsnbc International." Nsnbc International RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"Golden Articulations." Colleen J. McElroy. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"Italy Invades Ethiopia." Italy Invades Ethiopia. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"The Long, Long Trail." The Battle of Le Cateau August 1914. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"The Long, Long Trail." The Battle of Le Cateau August 1914. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.

"The Voice of Vexillology, Flags & Heraldry." : Missouri Territory Heritage Flags for Missouri Territory Alumni States. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2014.