I wait thy breath, Great Parent, that my strain
May modulate with murmurs of the air,
And motions of the forests and the sea,
And voice of living beings, and woven hymns
Of night and day, and the deep heart of man.
-- Shelley, in “Alastor: Or, the Spirit of Solitude”
I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious or thoroughly starry-eyed, but this year I’m going to try to remember that my “strain”– my daily words to my students – can do what Shelley describes in the above passage. I hope I can keep in mind that my words come not so much from a little mind inside my skull, but from the infinite numbers of ideas, words, events, and scenes that have nurtured that mind over the course of my lifetime. Even when alone, I’ve never lived truly alone in this world, but always surrounded and refreshed by the grand universe itself, and the words I say to