In between classes this morning, I took a close look at some crimson blossoms on a handsome tree near my room, and it reminded me, instantly, of some of the times when I’ve paused in reading and taken a close look at the text. Of course, more often than not I don’t pause, don’t take a close look, don’t carefully examine either what I’m reading or the blossoms on a tree. Like many of us, I’m often in a somewhat scatter-brained mode when I’m reading or passing picturesque trees, so I seldom take time to look closely. Words in books usually hurry into and out of my mind as fast as the pages turn, and I’m afraid that pretty trees come and go in my life merely like blurs or shadows. However, this morning, I bent close to a few blossoms and actually saw them. I studied them for a few seconds, and sure enough, the fullness of their beauty became clear. It was just a fleeting moment of study, but it was enough to show me a small kind of magnificence just outside my classroom. It reassured me, in an odd kind of way, that I’m doing the right thing by requiring my students to read The Tempest little by little and with great care. We regularly stop and study lines and words, similar to the way I stopped beside the spring tree this morning. You might say we stroll through Shakespeare instead of dashing. We pause and use the magnifying glasses of our minds to inspect the small treasures concealed in his words – the blossoms of language that hasty readers surely miss.
© 2010 Hamilton Salsich