Monday, May 3, 2010
The school year is winding down, and teachers and students alike have gone into survival mode. My seniors are halfway out the door, and I am holding onto shirt sleeves, urging them to do just one more assignment before they leave.
Students are choosing poems for their final research assignment, and more than one now "loves" John Keats--I almost feel "my work here is done." I myself am in love with Keats, and lay on my bed reading and rereading "Ode to a Nightingale." I hear "the murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves." Keats requires no effort, no intellectual struggle (struggle if you want to, but it's unnecessary); just hear these lines as you read them:
Darkling I listen; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever it seems rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Then I have the selected letters of Keats by my side, so I can go back and forth between the poetry and letters. I like to skip around and read the letters he wrote to Fanny Brawne, then skip around and see what Keats had to say to his friends Dilke, Brown, and Severn.
Today begins my Persephone challenge. I have The World That Was Ours by Hilda Bernstein, and I read the Preface yesterday afternoon; tonight I begin the Prologue. I hope to finish the book this week, even though interim grades are due Friday and I have 160 students, most of them seniors. Tonight I brought home a set of tests to grade, and I haven't touched them yet. Sigh.
Here's the first sentence of the Prologue to The World That Was Ours: "There was a sense of unease all afternoon."