The third of six cross-curricular lesson plans on Songs of the Skies & Holidays for Primary or Elementary School children using songs and animations, poetry analysis and writing, music analysis, instrument making, art projects and play ideas.
Ghazal of Italy - Milan and Rome
Animation by Paula Downes, music by Andrew Downes, poetry by primary school children coached by Julie Boden.
In days of Pizza and Ice cream Our senses fly to you.
In nights that lick their lips to dream Our senses fly to you.
In cities built for God and Man
In ancient Rome; Modern Milan Our senses fly to you.
Where seven hills whisper to walls
a Piazza of a people calls. Our senses fly to you.
Where Romulus and Remus ran
as mopeds beep back ways of Man Our senses fly to you.
As we walk down the steep street
where coin and wish and water meet, our senses fly to you.
And in white clouding smoke of skies
as breath runs out, an old Pope dies, Our senses fly to you.
In lace as intricate as choice
In marble chilled La Scala voice our senses fly to you.
Oh, children of Milan and Rome
from pasta past we journey home. Our senses fly to you.
About the poem
Things to discuss: What is a moped? What is La Scala? What are the seven hills and the walls? What is a Piazza? Coins, fountains and wishes. The Pope. Italian food. Show the children where the cities are on googlemaps. Talk about the sights they might see in those cities.
Who were Romulus and Remus? Watch this video to learn the myth of how Rome was founded.
Watch the following travel videos to learn more about Milan and Rome:
Search for rhyming words, nouns, adjectives, verbs. Notice the repetition of, 'Our senses fly to you'.
Brainstorm all the nouns, adjectives and verbs and imagery to do with Milan and Rome.
Ask the children to select words that rhyme from the brainstorm.
Ask them them to write a poem with the same rhyming structure and repeating structure as the poem in the song.
In verses 1, 4, 5 and 8, the composer uses slow, relaxed ostinatos in the accompaniment to create the warm holiday atmosphere of the two cities. Watch this video to learn about ostinatos:
Now listen to the song again and listen out for all the ostinatos in the accompaniment. Also notice how the melody goes up and down in a arch shape for 'Our senses fly to you'.
You can also try to identify the instruments playing them after watching the videos below.
Verses 2, 3, 6 and 7 are set to music that sounds Medieval (5th to 15th Century) in order to conjure up the ancient city.
Listen to the first minute or so of Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame
Now listen to the song again and try to identify the 'Medieval' bits.
Draw a sight or sights in either or both city.