Today is the UN’s World Poetry Day, a day set aside for the purpose of promoting and enjoying the world’s diversity of poets and their language.

I took African-American Literature in college and after one class, I took as many as the school offered. One of those classes was on poetry, particularly of the Harlem Renaissance.  I was and am forever fascinated with the way words are beautifully and lyrically put together.

I remember almost laughing out loud sitting in class one day, when I came upon these lines.

Ef you don’t git up, you scamp,

Dey’ll be trouble in dis camp.

These are in the beginning stanza of the poem, In the Morning, by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.  Written in dialect, it was hard to understand at first, but then I read it as you have to with such poems – out loud. And I heard, not my voice, but my father’s. My father had learned the poem as a child and recited the poem almost every morning to wake me and my brother up.

Although I can’t find a date that the poem was written, Dunbar died in 1906, so it couldn’t have been much more than thirty or forty years old when my dad learned it. I’m terrible at remembering things, but it’s one of the few poems recorded in my brain. And it’s one that my own children call to each other as they drag each other out of the bed. I love this connection of generations through words and poetry.