What a glorious day today!
This little bunch of bluebells was sitting on our doorstep a few days ago 🙂
I’ve had a little more time to read lately; I finished Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. It’s the kind of exquisite book I feel curmudgeonly about pointing out any flaws in–and yet, I found it a bit repetitive in parts or at least predictable. Still, certain sections of Perry’s prose are breathtaking–the first paragraph, for instance:
One o’clock on a dreary day and the time ball dropped at the Greenwich Observatory. There was ice on the prime meridian, and ice on the rigging of the broad-beamed barges down on the busy Thames. Skippers marked the time and tide, and set their oxblood sails against the northeast wind; a freight of iron was bound for Whitechapel foundry, where bells tolled fifty against the anvil as if time were running out. Time was being served behind the walls of Newgate jail, and wasted by philosophers in cafes on the Strand; it was lost by those who wished the past were present, and loathed by those who wished the present past. Oranges and lemons rang the chimes of St. Clement’s, and Westminster’s division bell was dumb.
I’ve also been reading Michael Robbins’ Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music, in which he says, “You don’t decide to go deep into words. Something takes you there.”
That reminds me of some of the things my AP students wrote last week in response to my question: What makes a good poem?
“A good poem makes your hair stand up. It is entirely up to the individual.”
“A poem that leads to serious assessment or thought about something.”
“One that emotionally involves any and all readers and leaves you thinking.”
“A good poem is able to illustrate a relatable and complex feeling in a unique and powerful way.”
“A good poem can be almost immediately recognized as true.”
“A good poem is one that is simple, easy to read but has sophistication and deeper meaning; I don’t want to dissect it like a puzzle but rather more contemplate it.”
“A good poem is any poem that changes your outlook on its subject in any significant way.”
“A good poem conveys emotion, any emotion.”
“A good poem makes you imagine the poem in real life.”
“A good poem always needs to make me feel something new or something I haven’t felt in a while.”
“It should make one consider and re-evaluate one’s own life as it makes one feel.”
“A good poem has music and rhythms coursing beneath its surface, regardless of whether or not it rhymes. It conveys its images in surprising, interesting ways, and the poet shows a mastery and command of language.”
“A good poem makes you compare it to what you know about the world.”
“A good poem casts a striking image in one’s mind and intelligently conveys its message.”
“A good poem has a thoughtful structure that compliments the topic itself.”
“A good poem is able to describe and create feelings that people have always known, but never been able to explain.”
What an insightful, emotionally intelligent group of students I have! Typing out their handwritten answers is part homage, part hallelujah, and the beginning of this year’s bittersweet goodbye.