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Elegy in the Classroom

Anne Sexton wrote this wonderfully provocative poem. I am unsure of her context for the poem, but an elegy is a lament or a mourning for something past. As with anything, when we grow past the love and passion for what we do and the compassion for the people we do it with it is time to take our leave. I want to be remembered as ‘gracefully insane’ or eccentric. I love learning with my students and their families the second greatest reward I can receive. The first is learning with my family. I think, in both cases, I could be called somewhat ‘disarranged’.

Teaching is a place of great creative for me and fills a whole in the hole of my soul.

Oh my, Anne Sexton discovered and chose great words for teachers.

In the thin classroom, where your face
was noble and your words were all things,
I find this boily creature in your place;

find you disarranged, squatting on the window sill,
irrefutably placed up there,
like a hunk of some big frog
watching us through the V
of your woolen legs.

Even so, I must admire your skill.
You are so gracefully insane.
We fidget in our plain chairs
and pretend to catalogue
our facts for your burly sorcery

or ignore your fat blind eyes
or the prince you ate yesterday
who was wise, wise, wise.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

12 responses »

  1. I can just picture you “squatting in the windowsill”.

    Great poem.

    Reply
  2. :D
    My mom has worked at the local school for nigh on 30 years – her predecessor stayed way past deranged phase and mom’s tag line is, “Well, I’d like to work for as long as I can, but please, tell me if I start acting crazy”

    Reply
  3. delicious such vivid imagery…

    Reply
  4. My own brief experience of teaching was as rewarding as my experience as a student. In the end, both are much the same … an exchange, if you will, inflow as well as outflow. I love this poem and have wondered about “boily” … but then we poets do take our liberties. These days that actually has its own urban meaning.

    Reply

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