Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Til your good is better
And your better best
I was here
Here I was
Was I here
Yes I was
For a life spent in teaching and schools
Dealing with both genius and fools,
Then without malediction
I can say with conviction,
I never had quite the right tools.
For it took me a long time to find
And the difference was hard to define:
The wise oft were demented,
The dull – vague but contented,
And both could be quite asinine.
Whilst the average student was fine,
‘Twas these others who took up my time.
The norms kept me sane,
While the rest were a pain,
But have given me cause for this rhyme.
They did it, sir, I saw them,
They pestered and annoyed her,
They spread your desk with powder,
They turned the sound up louder,
Oh, please sir, say you’ll whack ’em.
She did it, miss! I saw her!
She spread the floor with water.
She splashed the paint on Susan Porter;
She cut the model dog in quarter.
I’m awfully glad you’ve caught ‘er.
You did it, sir, you caught ‘em.
You found them where they hid it,
You even found them with it,
So you must believe they did it.
Red-handed! Now you’ve taught ‘em!
He did it, sir! I saw him!
He fed the goldfish sawdust;
He made the hamster raucous.
Yes, he giggled when you caught US.
Believe me, sir, it WAS him.
Why don’t you, sir? Why don’t you?
Why not hit him with your ruler?
Why can’t you be a little cruel-er?
Why are you acting cooler?
You frightened that he’ll sue you?
“Shall I collect the red chesters?”,
The caretaker said to me.
He’d said it so often I didn’t demur;
I grimaced and just let it be.
For him to take care of a school,
That was a daily trial.
He’d disappear for hours on end;
Complaints just met with denial.
‘Thruppence short of half a crown’,
Was how we described him then;
But that was being so unkind
To a minnow amongst men.
He shuffled around from place to place
Carrying brush and pan,
Picking up what others dropped,
Doing it because he can.
When needed to open a stockroom door
He went to find the key.
Two hours later he appeared
To set the prisoner free.
He stoked the boiler from time to time
To keep the heating on,
But never remembered to turn it off
When wintertime had gone.
He swept the playground with a broom
The way he’d always done.
You couldn’t see the difference
From when he had begun.
Cleaning out the long jump pit
Was just a task too far.
He couldn’t tell a pile of sand
From half a ton of tar.
And as for adding up I found,
He wasn’t the wisest of men.
When asked to count milk bottles up
He could never get past ten.
I asked him once how many chairs
He’d set out in the hall.
He told me, about ten rows, plus two,
He’d put against the wall.
And as for cleaning out latrines,
He didn’t find that easy.
He couldn’t wash a basin out
Without him feeling queasy.
So why, you ask, did I appoint him,
Choose him before another?
Sorry, but I do admit,
He was my dearest brother.
N.B. ‘Red Chesters’ is the way some people mispronounce the word ‘Registers’, which are the daily attendance records maintained in each class of UK schools.
Spuggy Hood is in my class,
A stocky, spotty, snotty lass.
We all take care with her about,
A dangerous friend to have. No doubt.
Her hair is tangled, mousy brown,
Her face it wears a constant frown.
As for her dress, well it is awesome,
Brighter than the leaves in autumn,
But this is just because of jam,
Of bits of grease and chunks of ham.
Everything that she has eaten
Seems her cardigan to sweeten.
At lunchtime in the school canteen,
Regardless of the day’s cuisine,
Don’t wish to be dog in a manger,
But, sit near Spuggy, you’re in danger.
Whilst we try to eat our lunches,
She grinds her teeth, she chomps and munches;
Dribbles, snivels, slobbers and slurps,
With many gulps, and grunts, and burps.
She doesn’t seem to care at all,
Big and fat, built like a wall,
Barging her way around the room
Whilst roaring with a sonic boom.
She takes no prisoners, has no friends,
Kindness pays no dividends;
Of her classmates she’s oblivious
Her behaviour really is perfidious
Chews her pencil, sucks her thumb,
Picks her nits, scratches her bum.
Never ever is she good,
She’d show her knickers if she could.
She likes to sit and pick her spots,
Her fingers covered in ink blots.
Blows her nose on toilet paper . . .
. . . I hate, I hate, I hate, I hate ‘er.
(No.53 of my favourite short poems)
Not in fact a poem this week, but an inspirational monologue on the significance of writing poetry and of the importance of ‘carpe diem’ (translated from the Latin as ‘seize the day’), or the importance of making the most of the present time before it is too late. The thesis is presented in the film ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ in a speech to his pupils by the charismatic English teacher, Mr Keating, who taught his pupils about life, not just about poetry and the English language. Mr Keating was played in the film by Robin Williams.
From ‘Dead Poets Society’ … screenplay written by Tom Schulman
“In my class, you will learn to think for yourselves again. You will learn to savor words and languages. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. I see that look in Mr Pitts’ eyes like 19th century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school, right? Maybe. You may agree and think yes, we should study our Mr. Pritcher and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions. Well, I have a secret for you. Huddle Up…Huddle UP! 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. Medicine, law, business these are all noble pursuits necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, and love; these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman “Oh me, Oh life! … of the question of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless … of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these? Oh me, Oh life.” “Answer…that you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. … What will your verse be?”
Watch “Robin Williams – What will your verse be? – excerpt from Dead Poets Society” on YouTube . . .
Thomas H. Schulman ( 1950 – 2016) is an American screenwriter best known for his semi-autobiographical screenplay Dead Poets Society. The film won the Best Screenplay Academy Award in 1989, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. (From Wikipedia)
Robin McLaurin Williams (1951 – 2014) was an American stand-up comedian and actor. Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance. (From Wikipedia)
TERENCE – THE TEACHERS’ TORMENT
Terence was so sensitive,
He was averse to life.
He was a pain to have in school,
A constant source of strife.
He wouldn’t play in any team,
He just stood there and cried;
Wouldn’t join in any sport
However much we tried.
He hated maths, he couldn’t add,
His spelling was appalling.
His writing was a dreadful scribble,
His language was quite galling.
And what he knew of history
Could be written on two stamps
And science and geography
To him were complete blanks.
And when it came to making friends
He wasn’t interested;
His eating habits were quite crude,
His food left half-digested.
He said that school was not for him,
He’d rather be at home.
His mum and dad, at their wits’ end,
Called it his Teddy Syndrome.
“OK, then let’s just try”, I said,
“To see if this will work.
Let him bring his Ted to school
Might solve his little quirks”.
And so it did, I’m pleased to say.
There’s no more ridicule.
He carries Ted around with him,
Best teacher in the school.
When numbers leap up at me
I often feel scared;
They can be aggressive
Render thinking impaired.
I try not to fluster
To think these things through,
But I can still end up muddled
Not having a clue.
In the shop I try hard
To keep check on my spend,
But I’m easily distracted
And I have to pretend
That I know what I’m doing,
Mind and brain won’t agree;
Are two for the price of one
Same as buy one get one free?
When I’m with my bank statement
Checking up what I’ve spent,
Deducting those refunds
Allowing for rent,
Assuming some interest,
Checking those bills,
It gives me a headache –
Cue for some pills.
Life should be much easier.
If only I’d been
An attentive student
I could have foreseen,
That time spent with maths
In school in my teens,
Might have paid off –
Unless it’s my genes!
Three score years and ten
I will not see again;
At least I know that
My bible’s my brain.
My life is a number
Too large to keep count
It’s approaching seven dozen –
I demand a recount.
I have a book, passed down to my wife from her father and his father before him, with the title of ‘ILLUSTRATED ANECDOTES and PITHY PIECES’. It was published in 1874 and which, of course, contains just what the title describes – well, the Victorian idea of such things!
I am reproducing a scanned image of one of the entries which plays with words in rhyming couplets, as I often like to do in my own verses. (Not sure about the attempt to rhyme ‘faith’ with ‘death’ though!). Amusing and educational aphorisms, life-enhancing even, and very PITHY !!!
“‘NICE’ is not a nice word”
My teacher said to me,
“If you can choose another
The better it will be.”
To say that something’s ‘NICE’,
As to say that it’s ‘OKAY’,
Hardly sounds exciting
And savours of foul play.
Both words are ineffectual,
They flatter with faint praise.
Far better to be forceful
And use a fitter phrase.
# # #
‘PLEASING’ is a good one
It has that ring of truth;
What’s more it sounds appealing
Trips lightly off the tooth.
‘GOOD’ is even better
Positive and clean;
It fits unto the letter
And shows us what you mean.
‘JOYFUL’ sounds engaging
And improves all that you say;
Surely has more feeling
Than having a ‘nice’ day.
‘LUSTROUS’ sounds exotic
But still might fit the bill;
It lends a feel of brightness
Drops lightly from the quill.
‘BEAUTIFUL’s a mouthful
But serves your purpose well;
It speaks of cosy warmth
And has a tale to tell.
‘CHARMING’ is a good word
And speaks of utter joy;
It could launch a thousand ships
As once did Helen Of Troy.
‘GREAT’ would suit your purpose
There’s nothing wrong with that;
Shades of fame and grandeur
More than just chit-chat.
‘PLEASANT’, that is better
It sounds as though you mean it;
An honest word to proffer
And you’re not out to demean it.
Try ‘LOVELY’ if you like it
That strikes a fitting note;
Enhances your description,
Improves all that you wrote.
‘POSITIVE’ is good
Whole-hearted and inclusive;
It shows you really mean it
Yet isn’t too intrusive.
‘DELIGHTFUL’ sounds exciting
Expressing joy and bliss;
But ‘Ducky’ is a No-no,
I should give that a miss.
# # #
Line up to be used
Instead of NICE or OK,
But do not get confused.
The choice is yours dear poet
Don’t just throw the dice,
Use your ingenuity …
But remember to be NICE !!!
# # #
Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas
A Melange, a Miscellany, a Mishmash - of memories, reflections and comment
At a loss for words, i leave myself on paper.
Here and now, with all of it.
A combination of things created and things lived
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Breaking news and thoughtless commentary on the world.
Life past, present, thoughts about the future
Sits down with The Two Doctors and .....
Life in words
Asleep at the wheel, but awake in my dreams....
by Sam Allen
Words from the Heart
Writing as a Help to Thought
Writing poetry on the nature of humanity ...and vise versa.