Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 28: Robert Frost's Poems - Robert Frost (288 pages)

I was introduced to poetry by my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Tom Reichert. He was my toughest teacher and he was my favorite. We were in a hybrid honors class so we had social studies, English and other topics in one class and then we traveled to another class for math and science. Mr. Reichert was a Vietnam vet and looked the part. He was also very intelligent and expected lots from us as students. He taught us discipline and fun. He could quote Chaucer, then slip into his version of "Cat Scratch Fever"! Clearly the man left an impression. Early in the school year he told us that, amongst all of the other things that were required for his class, we would be memorizing a poem a week and reciting them in front of the class!! This struck fear in the heart of most of the 12 an 13 year olds in this class. We freaked out! What type of poems? Do we choose? What if we get stage fright? We all thought that this was some form of torture - that Mr. Reichert thrilled in the torture of youngsters. Little did we know, he had bigger plans for us.

How does this story tie into my choice for reading this book this week? Well - the first poem that we had to memorize was ROBERT FROST's "Fire and Ice". I still remember this poem, some 27 years later. I am going to write it out for you - and of course there is no way of knowing whether I copied this from a book or not - but I didn't! If you know me - call me and ask for an impromptu recitation.

Fire and Ice - Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire
some say in ice
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those that favor fire
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
is also great
And would suffice

At 12 years old I had a vague idea what I was reciting, but it was later revealed to me as an adult, that Mr. Reichert was not so concerned about us knowing the meaning of what we were reciting. He wanted us to face our fears and get up in front of people with confidence. He wanted us to take this skill with us as we grew up and went to high school and college and our future careers. He felt that making us get up in front of our generally rude peers (God help you if you forgot or stumbled - we were merciless) would give us the skills to face anyone and anything. I have to say that he was right, at least for me, he was. I can comfortably speak in front of a crowd with little to no prep, because - the people in the audience can never be as horrible as we 6th graders were!

Of course this book of poems has all of Mr. Frost's poems both obscure and well known - I decided to speak about this one since it holds so much meaning to me. Maybe there is a special one for you in this collection. Check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Your best review yet! That must come from the sentimental connection you share with this poem and former teacher. Well done!