This Is Just for You

Up until this year I home schooled my children. I think there is value in memorization as a thing unto itself. But why memorize boring dates of a pharaoh’s reign of whatever millennium, or which Punic war was when, when you can memorize poetry? This was my thinking when I had my children pick and memorize poems. When I started my literature class at college this spring I couldn’t wait to tell my daughter that Shakespeare’s sonnets 130 and 18 were on the syllabus as those were the very poems that my oldest son and she memorized (respectively) and then recited at a poetry reading in a bookstore for poetry month one year when we lived in NYC. We laughed at the memory of her brother getting up to a microphone in his youthful innocence to say “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.”
But the poem that hits my heart deepest is William Carlos Williams:  This Is Just to Say. One of my other sons recited that to us (his siblings and 2 other families) when he was….hold on I’m thinking…7? could that be? Yes, I think it is close. He was a little angel reading that poem. It is one of my favorites based on his reading of it. Today in class we came to this poem, I was very excited. Imagine my bemusement to hear the class’s conensus: the poem is good, but what an annoying note to write. This is just to say– what a jerk, ate all the plums and gloated to boot! But…but…I  said quietly, he left a note, and yes I would be peeved that my plums were eaten, but he goes on to describe the very essence of delicious plum-ness so succinctly and beautifully; can we not forgive him or even be happy that he appreciated them? I don’t know, when I buy a perfect peach, mouthwatering broccoli rabe, a piece of Humbolt Fog, or prepare a meal, the very most satisfaction I feel is when others appreciate it. What is more lovely than a ripe cold plum? Nothing my love, I’m happy you enjoyed it.

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7 responses to “This Is Just for You

  1. You make me feel proud.

    It’s funny your going back to college. You seem as if you had home schooled your college education long ago. Maybe even your post-graduate degrees. I understand the badges and society’s demand for them in the job market, though. Let’s just say then, you are VERY well-prepared.

  2. Nobody cares if your an autodidact. I wish I was “going back,” I never went at all, so I am really at the beginning. I really like it though. If only I could just be a student for ever more…

  3. Jessica,
    You CAN be a student for evermore! You know that, of all people!

    I’m with you on the poem. I have kept that poem on the top of my muddled consciousness for 30 some years since I read it as a teenager. It is actually about sharing and about the beauty of mundane daily life…Thanks!

  4. You’re right of course, if only things like shelter, gas, food, and clean clothes weren’t so relentlessly needed.

  5. It’s funny. I did a work of art inspired by this William Carlos Williams poem. I thought I was so unique and original and then I discovered that this is one of the most studied and discussed poems on the planet. I still love the poem though and marvel at the tenderness of his gloating. Sometimes good people do bad things.

  6. this is very nice

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