Tuesday, December 22, 2009


“… an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony…”
-- Wordsworth, in “Tintern Abbey”

    Reading these lines again this morning, I thought of the harmony I occasionally feel during English class. It doesn’t happen every day, of course, but there are classes now and then when everything seems to flow as smoothly as the River Wye in Wordsworth’s poem. In those classes, whatever we do and say seems to be precisely what should be done and said. Notebooks open quietly, pencils move effortlessly, thoughts are tossed among us like balloons, and the period comes to an end as effortlessly as a river rounds a bend.  Some of this harmony, I suppose, can be traced to good planning, but a lot of it is as natural and unplanned as winds moving among trees. Honestly, I have no real idea where this kind of concord  comes from. Wordsworth attributed it to “a motion and a spirit, that impels/All thinking things”, and perhaps that spirit occasionally passes among my students and me as we carry on our English work. Wherever it comes from, I feel lucky to be “surprised by joy” like this now and then (to quote another Wordsworth poem). One moment I’m waiting to start class, and the next moment I’m floating with my students on a friendly and perfectly-balanced 48-minute English lesson.  

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