Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ode to an English teacher

ODE TO AN ENGLISH TEACHER
(on the occasion of her birthday)

Somehow or rather
everytime I think of you
these verses come
serenaded to me as a child
whose love for the language
is immense
maybe not so much because of the profundity
of beowulf
of gilgamesh
of john donne's poems
of jonathan swift's modest proposal
of the eerie opening words of shakespeare's macbeth
or the wonders of keats, shelley, and byron
or of late
the beat poetry of allen ginsberg
-- of howl and the velocity of money
maybe not all these
but simple verses you taught us as a child
learning to know the world
and to be friends with its wonders
and with the great books
i would love to devour
daily
till the end of time
because you have taught us
the power of the word
as it becomes flesh
as it becomes
bricks
walls
structures
of power
in hope that
they will come back to become
a desiderata
you once taught us to read
to recite
as children
promised a world
in which
language
only language
makes reality
breaks reality
bends reality
become these
becomes us --ar

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CIKGU RAHMAH SAHAMID
MAY THIS SPECIAL DAY of YOURS TODAY BE A MOMENT TO REFLECT
WHAT A GIFT YOU ARE -- A GIFT OF LANGUAGE

I SHALL REMEMBER THESE WORDS BELOW YOU HAD TAUGHT ME ABOUT HOW THE WORLD SHOULD BE AND BECOME ...

---------------------------------------------------------------

Desiderata
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

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