Monday, September 7, 2009

the last day of summer holidays

the last day of the summer holidays.
a day when i am torn between the excitement of what the school year will bring
and a deep aching
for the loss of freedoms and pleasures,
not the least of which has been a welcome degree of simplicity
about the way my life has been organized for the last two months.
the ability to respond to needs and wishes
in a manner that somehow
feels like i am more present as a person.

this summer has been
one long magical day for me.
really it has!

so i think i'm feeling sorry for myself
and excited for myself
all at the same time.

so, forgive me this rare maudlin posting.
i'll get over it as soon as i am with my class
and see their eyes and hear their voices.

as soon as a i feel their thinking
and especially watch for the first little threads of
community that builds from tenuous and tentative beginnings
into something so extraordinary,
so dynamic and even at times
that you'd have to be there to know it.


here's rupert brooke's tender ode to a day's end.

tenderly, day that i have loved, i close your eyes,
and smooth your quiet brow, and fold your thin dead hands.
the grey veils of the half-light deepen; colour dies.
i bear you, a light burden, to the shrouded sands,

where lies your waiting boat, by wreaths of the sea's making
mist-garlanded, with all grey weeds of the water crowned.
there you'll be laid, past fear of sleep or hope of waking;
and over the unmoving sea, without a sound,

faint hands will row you outward, out beyond our sight,
us with stretched arms and empty eyes on the far-gleaming
and marble sand. . . .
beyond the shifting cold twilight,
further than laughter goes, or tears, further than dreaming,
there'll be no port, no dawn-lit islands! but the drear
waste darkening, and, at length, flame ultimate on the deep.
oh, the last fire -- and you, unkissed, unfriended there!
oh, the lone way's red ending, and we not there to weep!

(we found you pale and quiet, and strangely crowned with flowers,
lovely and secret as a child. you came with us,
came happily, hand in hand with the young dancing hours,
high on the downs at dawn!) void now and tenebrous,

the grey sands curve before me. . . .
from the inland meadows,
fragrant of june and clover, floats the dark, and fills
the hollow sea's dead face with little creeping shadows,
and the white silence brims the hollow of the hills.

close in the nest is folded every weary wing,
hushed all the joyful voices; and we, who held you dear,
eastward we turn and homeward, alone, remembering . . .
day that I loved, day that I loved, the night is here!

the lady of shalott john atkinson grimshawe


Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Steven, I know how you feel, having been through a similar transition just three weeks ago. For me, once the year gets going, the world brightens considerably and summer fades into fond memory.

May your school year be fulfilling! I'll be thinking of you as I enjoy a day off (Labor Day in the US).

Delwyn said...

Hi Steven

I wish you a joyfilled term ahead. Your young students are very lucky to have such a sensitive, passionate and thoughtful teacher as guide, educator and mentor..

Happy days

Anonymous said...

Good luck for the new school year. I remember that feeling well. Miixed joy and horror....This is my third year of retirement and I miss the excitement of new, wonderful faces.
Rupert Brooke!
Atkinson Grimshawe (this one new to me). I think we have similar tastes.
You always match image to words so very well.
Now I go into teacher mode and think
lesson plan
what exciting thing could we do with this!

steven said...

hi dan, i was out on a speed ride with a friend yesterday and in the course of our short and breathless conversations i revealed my suffering to him. his response - reflective of the fact that he doesn't have the luxury of two months of summer vacation was suitably terse and reminding in its inensity!!! certainly not appropriate material for the golden fish!!! however, i share in my memories the very clear sense you suggest that once the year gets going the glow on my face returns once again as i work from my hands, heart, and head with the future which sits, dances, sings, writes, and thinks right before my often astonished eyes. it's a holiday here today as well. i'm gardening, prepping, and cooking up a big family dinner. hurray!!! have a peaceful holiday dan. steven

steven said...

hello delwyn - thankyou so much for that kind comment! i'll tell you here and throughout the year how lucky i am to have the kids i get. you'll never meet them but they are truly amazing people!!! i am nervous and excited all mixed into one!!! have a lovely evening by the river. steven

steven said...

hi elizabeth, yes! brooke and grimshawe side-by-side. i wonder what they'd think?!!! there are times when i think it would be incredible to teach older people - adults even - when i look at those two people's work as you suggest and write a lesson plan. oh my. can you imagine where you could go with that?!!! have a lovely day in ny. steven

Barry said...

As the husband of a teacher I know these feelings only too well. I also know the jealousy that resides out there in the community over those two months off in the summer.

But I also see the hours Linda puts in through the school year in preparation and marking and IEPs--while I relax with a book. I don't begrudge her a minute of that summer time.

Or you either. Glad this was a very special summer for you.

steven said...

hi barry - of course you know the other side of that coin!!!! the hours each night, weekends, it's incredible how we manage that, hold family together and somehow have a bit of personal life!!!!! i'm married to a principal so it's a bit of a double whammy / bonus for our kids as they see us intensely for these two months and then poof!!!! away go the big people into their laptops and stress!!! have a peaceful day barry - you deserve it!!! steven

willow said...

I would love to be a fly on the wall in your classroom, Steven.

Anonymous said...

I have been there and suffered through those kinds of experiences and after 10 years or was it 13 years I pulled the plug. Sure glad I did but without insurance, vacation, without a job, off on my own. My wife was a nervous wreck.

Your plans for a garden and in it you want to plant things to attract birds and butterflies. That was my idea in 1962 when we bought this new house and moved in. Since then it has gone through many changes and it is ending up with almost nothing from the beginning. How wrong I was to read books and follow advice of authors in California or New York and try to apply it to southwestern Ohio. It just doesn't work.

If you have an agriculture extension agent or group, I would contact them for advice on what to plant and where.

ellen abbott said...

The end of summer is always a little melancholy I think. The planet, or this hemisphere anyway, is settling down for it's restful sleep. The days are short and the nights are long.

hope said...

Meeting a new class is sort of like going on a first date, huh? Excitement and anticipation mixed with what-am-I-doing-here-and-will-they-understand-me? :)

I didn't get to use my teaching degree but I do remember student teaching. All those new shiny faces wanting to learn...and the one or two with sneers of, "So you think you can push info into my brain huh? Try me!"

Lucky kids. I know you'll reach all of them and they'll be the better for it. Looking forward to the stories they will bring us.

Psst, if you have to cook, delegate the clean up. ;)

Goldenrod said...

You'll never have a problem when it finally becomes time for you to retire, Steven. You have so many interests.

You're one of those rare species of men who are very 'into' being in touch with the moment, what's going on around you and your feelings. I won't be around to see that day, probably, but I can well imagine the fun you'll have ... perhaps you'll even keep your hand in by tutoring a bit. For sure, you won't be bored!

And, I think you'll still be keeping up with your blog, adding to your visual horizons and expanding your blogger friend list.

Have a great school year!

Pauline said...

This was an evocative post! I know so well the longing to hang onto summer and the languid days, days when, as you say, you are more conscious of your present self. I also looked forward to those first days in the classroom with both delight at meeting those new little people and dread of giving up my quiet time. It all evens out in the end, I suppose but I look forward to retirement with great anticipation. I had not read Rupert Brooke's poem before but oh, I can identify with that pang at letting go of each day.

acornmoon said...

My husband has returned to teaching today after a lovely, leisure filled holiday so I can identify with your sentiments. I also enjoyed reading your comment about nature trails near you. They sound very similar except for the porcupines!

steven said...

willow so would i!!! there have been people in to videotape me, they send teacher candidates in from the university to watch, and of course there are the poor long-suffering kids themselves!!! some days it's beyond amazing, some days it's good, some days it's my punishment for all the bad things i did to my teachers!!!!! have a lovely day at the manor. steven

steven said...

hi abe - you know it's funny but i have never really planned a garden per se, but i thought i would with this one and then i read your comment and thought "who am i kidding? i love to go out and buy whatever looks great, plant it and then move it around every year as it grows (or doesn't)!! i couldn't tell you the names of most of the plants in my garden because i don't really care. i really care that they are beautiful and appreciated . . . how simple is that!!!! thanks for your visit abe. steven

steven said...

hi ellen, it gets dark by around eight o'clock now. my evening bike rides have been cut way back and of course school starts tomorrow in this neck of the woods. however, it's a transition that daunts much more than it should as it always segues into the glory of autumn, my fave time of year!!! have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

hi hope - you nailed it with your "first-date" comparison. i also liked your idea about the cook doesn't also clean. that sometimes happens around here but not often!! i'll share what i can of the unfolding year alongside my other posts!! thanks so much for your great comments hope. steven

steven said...

hi goldenrod, thanks for that lovely comment. i think i have six or seven more classes before i retire at which time i'm hoping to learn about stained glass for starters. i want to create stained glass mandalas - a bit like rose windows. we shall see!!! have a lovely evening in texas goldenrod. steven

Kay said...

Beautiful poem...I hope that your students enjoy their days with you as much as I enjoy your blog!!

Titus said...

Good luck and best wishes steven.
Lovely post. It's strange how you can experience those two contradictory emotions at the same time, isn't it?

steven said...

hi kay, thankyou so much for that kind comment!!! i hope that they enjoy learning with me as much as i enjoy learning through this blog!!!! steven

steven said...

hello titus, thankyou. it is really strange. but i find that quite often experiences that are exciting also contain aspects of other feelings that are sometimes contradictory. have a lovely evening. steven

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

A lovely post steven, about your feelings right now and about putting moments, days, seasons to rest - and then remembering to turn east and look for the light.

I'm sure you thrive with transitions and will with this one too.

Bon retour!

Eryl Shields said...

I like a bit of melancholia, and I sense your phoenix will be rising from summer's ashes pretty swiftly. Good luck with the new school year.

steven said...

hi eryl, well you're right but i get all mopey whenever i have to give up the good stuff but once i get going it's a huge roaring goodvibe and like any decent drug, it carries me along very nicely until i'm maxed and then it's summertime all over again and i've got some cool stuff happening next summer so hurray!!!! steven

steven said...

hi bonnie, thankyou. i'm not a fan of sudden transitions or bridges but once i'm over the bridge i'm absolutely totally immersed in whatever new country i'm in. there are twenty-nine excited, nervous, edgy kids out there right now wondering what it's all going to be like for the next 192 school days. i'm thinking about them and wishing them well!!! have a peaceful evening. steven