My instructor for English 102 during my very short stint at UMass Boston had a teaching style that I found very frustrating. There was nothing wrong with it, but it was not a style that motivated me. I was 24 years old and knew enough to know that I didn't know everything. I really wanted a writing teacher who would tell me what I didn't already know, who would tell me where I went wrong, not where I went right. I had a feeling this woman was so intelligent that she was in danger of crossing that fine line that supposedly separated genius from insanity. More than once I found myself rolling my eyes in her class because she was so good at delivering praise. I didn't need praise; I knew I was a good writer. I needed a tough as nails instructor who was going to push me to do my best work. This is only one of the many reasons I chose not to continue with my education, but it was a big one. However, she taught me one thing that I will never forget; she taught me this philosophy (if you can call it that): "The greatest gift one may bestow upon oneself is to memorize a favorite poem or two so that you have that gift with you wherever you go, forever." Well, Clara Kozol, here are two such poems that I carry because they are favorites and a third simply because I can't forget it.
The first is my favorite poem by my favorite poet. I do apologize as I posted it earlier this month, but it's so special to me and reminds me of someone I love dearly. So please, forgive the duplication:
The shirt touches his neck
and smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
It even goes down below his belt—
down into his pants.
The next is my favorite Shakespearean sonnet (yes, I believe I've read them all) and speaks to the real beauty in
all of us rather than the physical beauty that so easily blinds us:
|My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)|
|by William Shakespeare|
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damasked, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress when she walks treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.
Finally I offer a quote that I often get wrong, but can't completely forget because of its quick tempo and bawdy nature:
"I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host."
-- Dorothy Parker
I'll have one last post later this month to close out the celebration. Thank you for joining me.