“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Of Teachers and Frost

Thursday, April 13, 2006

When I was growing up, to my recollection, only two of my teachers ever read poetry in class. The first one was Mr. Slack, my 6th grade teacher, who read Shel Silverstein to us. All the kids loved him. He also taught us a short poem about picking your nose and he taught anyone who was interested how to play cribbage during recess. He was definitely a class favorite.

The other was my 8th grade teacher. He was another favorite among his students. Some of them made fun of him, but it seemed to me more like the typical 8th grade angst. He had us read the book of Exodus for a class assignment. I think some of the students may have complained about that, but I thought it was great. He also tried to explain to us how the song "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name" was really quite impossible since no one could fall in love with someone they've never met. I'm pretty sure he got a lot of blank stares on that one.

Okay, come to think of it, maybe he was only a favorite of mine, not the whole class. Anyway, he introduced me to Robert Frost, which is enough in itself to make him a favorite teacher to me. Ever since then, I have adored Robert Frost's poetry. I'm too cheap (as mentioned in an earlier post) to have ever bought a collection of his poetry, but I've been tempted. Actually, I tried once and failed, but that's a story for another time.

The poem I remember my teacher reading was Mending Wall, and I still love it to this day.

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,

But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father's saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'


At 4/13/2006 12:25 PM, Blogger yellojkt wrote:

My son's 6th grade teacher had a jazz poetry reading day where parents came in and had tea and listened to the kids read poems. Very cool.


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