General Information

“To a Mouse” is a fun and heart-wrenching meditation on humanity, human animal relationships, and class. The premise of the poem is that a mouse’s home is turned up by a plowman ruining all the mouse’s stores for winter and indirectly killing him.

Instructors’ Teaching Experience

The students love this poem!

Classroom Strategies

I taught this poem in conjunction with several other “creature poems” namely John Donne’s “The Flea” Burns’ “To a Louse” and Thomas Gray’s “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes.” I used these poems as there first introduction to reading poetry. We spent the first class reading and interpreting each poem as a class. In the second class we began drawing comparison between the poems and their messages and the way animals were used to help deliver those messages. Then, in the last 40 minutes I had the students write their own “creature poems” to comment on their lives or society. This proved to be a great exercise for proving to students that poems can actually say things beyond their surface interpretations. It was also quite a bit of fun. They seemed to prefer Burns and Gray over Donne, perhaps because some of them had read the Donne before. They particularly loved Burns. [Taryne Taylor]