Friday, May 26, 2017

Poetry Friday: Last Day of Classes Edition

I was walking across campus the other day and thinking about the hundreds and hundreds of students that I have taught, and how at the end of every year you say goodbye to another batch, and at the beginning of the next year you greet a new batch, and you love them all but they all move on.  And then I was thinking about how so many years of my life have been spent on this campus, trying to make a difference in this community, and how much happiness there is in that, in spite of the challenges and the sorrows.

So today, here's May Sarton on happiness.  It might not seem very appropriate for a day of turning in projects, and passing back writing, and calming screeching excitement, but bear with me.

The Work of Happiness
by May Sarton

I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life's span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

This last day of classes won't be much about silence or inwardness; those days are coming up: a chance to finish a thought, to clean up the clutter in my classroom, and my house, and my brain.  But in my students, and in me, "another circle is growing in the expanding ring."  Another ring added to the tree of our lives, and our school. 

Here's today's roundup.


Tabatha said...

How beautiful Sarton's poem is (and what beautiful work you do)! May we all be lifted by our "inward work."

jama said...

I love this poem so much! Here's to inward work and having faith in the unseen. Another year, another group of students -- the end of the year is a bittersweet time and Sarton's poem provides great perspective on the long view.

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

All those quiet hours of support teachers provide, interwoven with their words, are the roots that hold up our children. For which, we thank you.

Linda B said...

The grateful contemplation of Sarton makes me smile and smile, Ruth. I too have had those contemplations at the end of school, wondering where they will go, what they will be like in their futures? I love this especially: "the dear familiar gods of home". That line speaks to me as I remember all the homes of others I have been blessed with. But my favorite of your post is your own words: "But in my students, and in me, "another circle is growing in the expanding ring." Another ring added to the tree of our lives, and our school." So beautiful. Enjoy those last days with this circle of yours.

Jane @ said...

It's been years since I was in school, but I can still remember with great love, respect and deep admiration the teachers who made a difference in my life, with their kindness, their support, their determination. Teachers are absolute heroes, and should be respected and celebrated as such!

Kay said...

I love the poem and the strength it portrays as each ring grows ever larger. Enjoy the quiet days to come.

Mary Lee said...

Oh, how I love this! It's my first Sunday morning in 10 months with no school work on the to-do for later today, and I am not missing that part, but the spot where a new ring of growth has occurred in my heart is still tender.

Linda Mitchell said...

I'm coming home and catching up on Poetry Friday after a long weekend away....and it's sweet to see you connect May Sarton's contemplation to your reflection on the last day of school. Good teachers cannot help but to be reflective. I have a feeling that you are a wonderful teacher and your students move on but do not loose what they have learned from you. Bless you as the summer enfolds you!

michelle kogan said...

Beautiful poem you shared with us Ruth. I love this inward focus Mary Sarton has created and her analogy of the inward growth of a tree and the homes we dwell in. I also like your closing thoughts and the tree as a metaphor for our lives. I teach all year round and for some reason am always expecting to catch up with life and other things over the summer. It hasn't really happened and I've begun accepting that I can't always get everything I want to done, and this is okay-for life needs to be lived!