Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Story Behind the Poetry Friday Quiz

I was taking an English course as an independent study in my sophomore or junior year of college. I don't remember why and I don't remember the prof's name. I do remember what it felt like to be substantially behind my peers in the honors program who had earned their honored positions by graduating at the top of competitive urban private and public high schools. I was salutatorian without trying very hard (and without learning very much) in a small rural high school.

By the time I took that independent study, I was well aware of my deficiencies. The professor rubbed salt in those wounds by having me read a paper that Dave Von Goldenboy had written so that I could see an example of GOOD writing.

And then he recited NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY and he asked me if the poem is pessimistic or optimistic. I figured the right answer was probably "pessimistic." Sinking to grief? Dawn going down to day? The gold not staying? But since there was no way I could ever live up to the Dave Von Goldenboy standard, I took the plunge: I said the poem was optimistic, and then I made up my reasons why right there on the spot.

Thanks to all of you who left comments which vindicate my stance. However, I'm realizing as I write this that that moment in my life as a learner was monumental not because of my stubborn, youthful perversity, but because it marks the moment when I started thinking for myself and not just giving the answers I thought the teacher wanted.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:13 PM

    What a moving antecdote. And if only he could seeeeee you now!


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