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Sunday, October 07, 2007

A silky Sunday trifle

My high school teacher, Gale Peterson, was a horrible little gimlet. The best way I can explain what I mean is...if Bilbo Baggins and Anne Coulter had a baby together, Petey would be the unholy fruit of that union. But I sort of fell in love with him one day during my senior year.

Of the five people taking Advanced British Lit, I was the only one who'd enrolled in the class voluntarily. The others were draftees and mostly unconscious, so if there was reading aloud to be done, I was almost always it. During a unit on the Cavalier Poets, he commanded me to read a piece by Robert Herrick, which I did out of fear for my immortal soul, and when I ended and looked up, expecting to be excoriated for one reason or another, Petey sat stricken, unable to speak, his eyes welling. In the moment was all the unrequited love of his life -- for some woman, for his students, for poetry he could never write, only long to hear read in the voice of a kindred spirit who loved the language almost as dearly as he did.

I came across the small but perfect poem in the course of research the other day, and dang if it didn't leave me choked up.

Whenas in silks my Julia goes
by R. Herrick


Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
Oh how that glittering taketh me!

1 comment:

Colleen Thompson said...

That's a lovely poem. Thanks for sharing... and thanks to all the teachers who put up with clueless slacker students in the hopes of infecting the rare kindred spirit with their whatever study fuels their passion.