Monday, April 07, 2008


It's all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget,
Some one the sun could tell,
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell.

~Emily Dickinson~

Virtue Jane Sanford taught remedial reading in my old high school. In my Senior year, due to the "bulge" of baby boomers, there was a need for an additional section of Senior English. She volunteered; I think she saw it as an opportunity to reach students on a little higher level. Miss Sanford had a different "past"- she had been an instructor in the Marine Corps Womens Reserve, she returned to teaching after the war, never married, and was considered a bit of an "odd duck." She was of the generation that grew up memorizing poetry, it was not uncommon for her to illustrate some point with a verse or two.

Emily Dickinson was her inspiration, while most of the class snoozed, she would take the three or four of us who could understand what she was getting at to a higher level. One poem spoke of lovers on a sunny hillside; the love act was described as "blood red" because the poem's narrator's eyes were closed.

Whew! The mental image of this mannish spinster in a romantic tryst with a lover in broad daylight triggered conflicting emotions in my young body. I felt as if she was directing the poem at me, I looked around the room, no one else seemed to have picked up on it.

There were a few teachers that still possessed "the flame" at our dreary school, usually teaching English or Speech, still trying to ignite our passion and curiosity through the works of the masters. Virtue had her own rewards.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Kristín said...

That was a lovely story, Batty.

Blogger Annie Rhiannon said...

"the flame"

Love it.

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