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《Lessons for Elementary School (15)》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Everyone Is A Poet

“Grandpa, do you write poems?” Nancy asks the minute she gets home from school.

“Well, I tried once, long ago, when I was in Grade 4, back in the old country.”

“That makes you a poet. I like to have your poem."

“I do remember it well, because it is the only one. It has only two lines: ‘I like to be a cloud, Freely I float around,’”

“That’s great!” Nancy applauds. “I like it, Grandpa. We have a very special visitor in class today, a poet from India whom Mr. Shaw knows by correspondence. He recited many poems in Bengali. They sounded just like music. They are beautiful even when we did not understand the words.”

“Was it just like singing?”

“Yes, it was. The poet swung his head as he sang. We all thought it was funny.”

“What did the poems say?”

“Well, Mr. Shaw asked the poet, Mr. Benjali to write down the poems for us, in English. One of them is like yours. It reads: ‘Clouds let fall showers, Earth everywhere grow flowers.’ It was a lot of fun when Mr. Benjali invited us to play a game in poetry.”

“Wow. That is something new to me. What was it like?”

“He had each of us chosen a thing we would like to be. Then, we took turns to write a short poem using our chosen identity.”

“What were you?” Grandpa is anxious to know.

“I chose to be a ladybug.”

“So what is your poem?”

“It is: ‘Birds don’t eat me please, Allow me to decorate my tree.’”

“Wonderful!” Grandpa applauds with great excitement.

“There were many more. For example, Elaine chose to be an angel, David chose to be winds, Mathew chose to be the horizon, Rose chose to be a rose, and Liza chose to be a stream. We all wrote exciting poems.”

“I’d like to hear what they are.”

“Here they are, Grandpa. I have written them down: David said: ‘Winds blow to and fro, Whither to go they know’; Liza wrote: ‘I chat with my pebbles on my way, You are all round and smooth always’; Mathew sang: ‘Horizon appears far and bright, The sun rises and falls from you nigh’; Elaine wrote: ‘Angels come short and tall, They make magic on us all.’; Denise wrote: ‘I chew grasses so sweet. I moo oxen I meet’; Rose wrote: ‘A rose is a rose white or red, people use us to decorate’”

“Lucky you are, you all became poets in one single lesson.” Grandpa praises heartily.

“It was indeed a lot of fun. Mr. Benjali told us about his favorite poet. He was Rabindranath Tagore from south India. He wrote poems in Bengali and English. They were simple poems similar to ours. But, they all conveyed time-tested wisdom about Mother Nature and humanity. Mr. Benjali then recited again, with closed eyes and swinging head. He looked as if he were drunk, unaware that he was with us in class. After a while, he asked Mr. Shaw to write down some of the poems from a book named Stray Birds. Grandpa, would you like to hear me read them for you?”

“Of course, my dear. But, read them slowly so I can feel the beauty and the wisdom.”

Nancy positions herself smartly before Grandpa, and chants the poems mimicking Mr. Benjali’s manners. She reads:

Let your life dance on the edges of time
There, you will meet wonders in surprise.

My wishes are fools they shout
Master, let me but listen what’s about.

Faith is the bird that feels the light
When the dawn is still dark.

Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to sky
When heaven listens in silence.

Love is an endless mystery
No explanations need be

Music is infinite sounds
Between two listening souls.

Love dose not claim possession
It lets partners free.

A great artist reveals himself
He pains not objects.

If you shut out mistakes from your door
Truth will be shut out too.

A mind of logic is a multi-blade knife
It bleeds the hand using it.

Clouds float into my life
They carry no rain or shadow
They add color to my sky.

Time awaits at the wisdom of life
To allow childhood appear again.

I dreamed I was born on a star
It twinkles to hurry my maturity.
For my harvest of satisfaction
Till eternity.

Do not enter my house my love
Let yourself dwell in my lonely heart.

The sun wears plain clothes to shine
Colorful clouds adorn attires of fancy.

Tears of mother earth
Allow flowers to thrive
On all her soils."

“These are great poems! “ Grandpa says dreamily. “How did Mr. Shaw end the wonderful lesson?”

“He did it in grand style, Grandpa. He recited his favorite poem for us, with shining eyes and a melodic voice. He sang from Shakespeare::

Time is very slow for thou who wait
Very fast for those who are scare
Very long for those who celebrate
But for those who love
Time is eternal.

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