Friday, June 07, 2013

Poetry Friday: Dropping Keys

Tabatha, who is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today, shared a poem a few weeks ago that I can't get out of my mind. I've had it on my desktop since I first read it. My comment on her post was, "This poem takes my breath away," and it does.

I'm sure there are many possible ways this poem could resonate with a reader, but to me the poem is about teaching, giving people tools to rescue themselves. There's a time for forceful Hollywood-style rescues, where you rush in, guns blazing, and remove captives from the danger they are in, but much more often, people need to rescue themselves, and all a teacher can do is give them keys. Not even give, in the sense of handing over explicitly, but like the poem says, drop them. You don't even always know that what you're dropping is a key, and you hardly ever know exactly how the recipient will use it. As a teacher (or a parent or a friend or whatever the role), am I locking people up more tightly, or am I dropping keys?

 Here's the poem:

Dropping Keys
by Hafiz

the small man
builds cages
for everyone
While the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the beautiful

Here's another link to today's roundup.


Tabatha said...

The fact that you kept thinking about this poem warms my heart...
and I love this: "am I locking people up more tightly, or am I dropping keys?"

jama said...

Yes, I remember that poem, and also found it very striking. Liked hearing your thoughts about how it relates to teaching, "giving people tools to rescue themselves." Precisely!

Liz Steinglass said...

This really speaks to me as a parent. Am I locking my kids in with my limits? Am I giving them enough freedom to unlock themselves?

Linda B said...

Beautiful thought, Ruth. I shared this poem with my writing group and we all thought it was about unlocking the world oneself, but now that you mention this idea, I love it, too. Our school "attempts" to do this dropping of keys, and with the attention and needs assessed of our students, we encourage them to follow their own paths, dropping as many keys as necessary yet also encouraging the creation of keys themselves. Thanks!

Violet N. said...

Wow, that is powerful! Somehow I missed it when Tabatha posted it.

I think the role of key-dropper can apply to more than just parenting and teaching. Don't we build cages or drop keys in almost all our interactions with people? Thanks for posting this!

Diane Mayr said...

This is my kind of poem--short and powerful. I especially like this: While the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,

I guess Hafiz will be added to my list of poets to look into.

Mary Lee said...

Dropping that!

Joyce Ray said...

Ruth, I love this poem and am so glad you shared it. What a lovely image of the sage being so selfless and tall that he has to bend when the moon is low!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oooh, I must of missed this the first time around when Tabatha posted it. Brilliant.