Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Will Your Verse Be?

I posted this on my Algebra class blog a few minutes ago. Thought I would share it here as well.

I'm sometimes (okay, often) not very good at expressing myself. Thankfully, I have other folks I can turn to that can perhaps convey what I was trying to say better than I did today in class. Case in point: Walt Whitman.
O Me! O Life?
By Walt Whitman (from Leaves of Grass, 1892)
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?  
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
This is what I was trying to get at today in class (albeit very poorly). My hope for you is that you may contribute a verse.

The following is a commercial for a product, and it pulls dialog from a movie, but I still think it's powerful.

From Dead Poets Society (1989) 
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here--that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? 
Tom Schulman from "Dead Poets Society"

What will your verse be?


  1. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  2. Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    admit impediments. Love is not love
    which alters when alteration finds
    nor bends with the remover to remove;
    Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark
    that looks on tempests and is never shaken
    It is the star to every wandering bark
    whose worth's unknown although its height be taken
    If this be error and upon me proved
    I never writ nor no man ever loved.

    And of course, Shakespeare writ plenty!

    1. Karl- Love this! I had seen the Apple ad about a month ago and also wanted to put it out there in an authentic learning connection. But I had been noodling on the where, when, with whom. And then while I was in a personal chaotic state, an educator sent me a link to this blog post. Simply resonates with me. This past week I've been also using Daniel Pink's SIx Word Stories as well as NPR "Race Card Project"
      So I enjoy when I'm hit over the head with similar connections on the same theme. I'm now challenging educators to share their verse, their 6 word stories or essays and get to some core truth in their life or work. Thank you for posting this. Cheers, Kim McMonagle

    2. Thanks Kim. Some of our Language Arts folks have been using Six Word Stories with their students with great success as well.