|That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"|
|And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.|
So ends the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe. For the holidays I gave my ten year old son a book of Poe short stories and poems. "Conqueror Worm" turned out to be one of his favorites. A review of the verses in his words follows:
"It was about an insignificant worm that conquers life. Life is like a show at a theater, but at the end it's over and it is a sad and tragic ending. The one thing that benefits from the tragedy is the Worm, which has conquered more than Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan. The poem is good for anyone who is Goth."
Personally I was too nerdy to be Goth as a teen, but I was certainly addicted to Poe. I've been to his grave in Baltimore a few times, and once toasted him with absinthe. I also have a former student who has done some good work on Poe. And apparently I've turned my son Goth via Poe magic.
Below, a story being told this season by my daughter, age three and a half. I have no idea why she has been telling it or where she got it from, but Santa Worm has already entered the Cohen family vocabulary.
"Santa Worm brings presents to his nice friends, all of them. He likes to give worm presents to worms. He wears a small red hat. He looks like Santa but he's different. He has a Santa Worm sleigh with worm reindeer and a Rudolph worm. There are no pictures of him because he is too small to take pictures. That's it."
You should, next, give them both a copy of Hamlet.
Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
At supper! where?
Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end.
Poe is so wonderful. I got hooked on him in middle school. If he would like to get started on criticism I read a very cool book on ciphers and Poe called *The Cryptographic Imagination* by a guy named Rosenheim.
Good suggestion, Liza ... though so far his favorite play is Julius Caesar. You should see him enact the stabbing scene.
I think I'll hold off on the literary criticism for Alex at least until he graduates 5th grade ... but the Rosenheim book looks intriguing!
If you haven't already, check out Gary Larson's book [There's a Hair in My Dirt! A Worm's Story.] It might be too much for Ms. Santa Worm but ten-year-old Goth Poe fans should find it highly amusing.
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