“The noble Heart, that harbours vertuous Thought,
And is with child of glorious great Intent,
Can ne'er rest, until it forth have brought
Th' eternal Brood of Glory excellent.”
-- Edmund Spenser, “The Faerie Queene”, Book 1, Canto V
It might seem far-fetched, even preposterous, to compare my capricious 9th grade English scholars to a mythical knight who’s setting out to achieve a “Glory excellent”, but the comparison makes an odd kind of sense to me. I think my students are, in fact, “noble hearts”, simply because I see them every day acting in bold and stalwart ways. They sit up straight in an often tiresome class, plod patiently through my exhausting daily assignments, write taxing essays week after week, and often mask their stress and troubles with a smile for their teacher. They’re not seeking “Glory excellent”, but simply a civilized grade in English, and they’re doing an honorable job of it. Despite their occasional cycles of silliness and lassitude, I persist in believing that the students have a “glorious great intent” in their hearts – that, in their own particular ways, they all want to achieve goals they can honestly call great. In one way or another, they are all knights searching for their own private kind of glory. No doubt many of the kids’ particular glories have little do with my English class, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t recognize and be glad about their aspirations. They are each devoted to something great, and that’s what’s important, whether it’s becoming a champion skateboarder, a trustworthy friend, a daring soccer scorer, or, conceivably, an A+ writer of English essays. They may not all be knights of Mr. Salsich’s roundtable, but they are all faithful knights in their own singular way – and admirable ones, at that.
© 2010 Hamilton Salsich
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