Each week we will briefly introduce you to (or reacquaint you with) a poet whose work is enjoyed by children and/or teens. We will start with the winners of the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children before moving on to other poets, past and present. Some poets you will encounter here are already very familiar and popular; others are less widely known yet their poems deserve to be shared and remembered. Links within the profiles will take you to additional information about the poet.


(1897-1997, American)
Born in New York and raised in New Jersey and Oregon, David McCord devoted his 99-years-long life to poetry and literature for children and adults, though he also showed an early aptitude for physics, chemistry, and astronomy. He went on to raise millions of dollars for his alma mater, Harvard University. He lived most of his adult life in Boston.
McCord’s poems for children demonstrate his great gift for “making serious ideas unforgettable and ordinary events extraordinary.”
”Whatever may be said about this small but graceful art,” McCord wrote in an article for The New York Times in 1964, ”Good poems for children are never trivial; they are never written without the characteristic chills and fever of a dedicated man at work; children must never hear the stigma of ‘I am adult, you are a child.”’

This Is My Rock
By David McCord

This is my rock,
And here I run
To steal the secret of the sun;

This is my rock,
And here come I
Before the night has swept the sky;

This is my rock,
This is the place
I meet the evening face to face.

From Every Time I Climb a Tree by David McCord (Little, Brown and Company). Copyright © 1952 by David McCord. Copyright renewal © 1980 by David McCord.

16 thoughts on “POET OF THE WEEK: David McCord

  1. Yesterday I saw a film: Contagion. In it, they stated that blogs were just Grafitti with punctuation!
    Wish they could see this “taste of fine”. Another page of perfectly rendered research and a gallery of excellence. I zipped to bn and ordered copies of the books for my library. Felt like a class at Harvard. I was allowed to sit in and listen without paying tuition.
    Jeanne Poland

  2. This is a treat, Steven – thanks.
    P.S. I think an aptitude for physics and astronomy is probably a plus for a poet. As is an aptitude for anything that involves the real, physical world – stars in the sky, insects on the ground, how a bridges and buildings stay up. Without curiosity and passion about physical things, poetry is dead as a doornail.

  3. Thank you, Steven. I love this! I especially love that New York Times quote. The information here is wonderful and it’s a delight to see the images of some of David McCord’s brilliant books. This weekly feature is a gift to all poetry lovers.

  4. Oh, I wish that David McCord was still alive. Thank goodness for his poems, footprints anyone would be delighted to find. Julie – I could not agree with you more. A,

  5. Now I have another assignment as I visit our library this week: David McCord it shall be. I am particularly intrigued with the books illustrated by Marc Simont (“Every Time I climb a tree”, and “The Star in the Pail”) I reviewed two books that he has illustrated for James Thurber (Wonderful O, and the 13 Clocks) – so I have an affinity for his illustrations. Thank you for leading me to this lovely poet. And I am looking forward to reading more of your features every Friday. 🙂

  6. ”Good poems for children are never trivial…” love this quote. I have enjoyed his books in the library for many years. Now I need to collect more of them at home!

  7. Thank you, Steven, for publicizing PACYA. I look forward to learning so much here. Love the sparkly banner! This poem illustrates so well the elements that attract children to poetry – repetition, rhyme, something physical to relate to and something “other” that speaks to imagination. Thanks for this example to keep in mind!

  8. “Far and Few” paperback edition from 1973, bought 1980 for 50 cents at a Stars & Stripes book store in Izmir, Turkey, is now brown with age, the cover faded from use. “At the Garden Gate” was my sons favorite poem during those days. He loved it when I changed voices. We had a heart shaped rock, at bed time, we would talk about what we had seen during the day and if we had seen an animal or bug, we would look if we had a matching poem…

  9. Pingback: Interview with U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis « Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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