Each year, I begin an inferences unit with this poem. It conquers multiple things:
1) Gets kids reading and talking poetry.
2) They have to do some expanded thinking and/or research.
3) They make some pretty good inferences!
4) It shows them poetry can be fun!
I begin by explaining I don't use "kid" poems in our class. I taught fifth grade for 11 years and constantly challenge students with adult-like poetry. This poem by Raine is a great example. It's just hard enough for middle schoolers, and adults, for that matter.
I have the students sit in a circle and we read the poem punctuation-to-punctuation, not line-by-line. I tell them up front they probably won't understand the poem the first read through. That's the beauty of this poem; it forces kids to re-read it several times to dig for clues.
We typically do the first stanza together. It talks about Caxton--hardly anyone knows what the author is describing. William Caxton was the first to print books in England in the 1400s--therefore, I show the kids all about researching even the smallest clues.
We typically do the second stanza together and they get the point. Then, they are off and running in groups or on their own. It's a ton of fun!