As the school year draws to a close, our sons in middle/junior high and high school may be facing final exams. Today’s Thoughtful Thursday offerings are a mix of poems about tests and school in general. It includes a cute poem to read to your young one who needs a bit of encouragement on test taking day, a poem about a young man’s experience in school that parents of boys can certainly relate to, and a well known Israeli poet’s reflections on what he did and didn’t learn in school. Enjoy.
Good Luck On That Test
Well – Today is the day
You’ll be picking your brain
Looking for knowledge
You’ve tried to retain
Soon you’ll be facing
Those questions you dread
And hoping right answers
Match what’s in your head
All you can do though
Is to give it your best
Just like you always do
Good luck on that test!
I was sent home the first day
with a note: Danny needs a ruler.
My father nodded, nothing seemed so apt.
School is for rules, countries need rulers,
graphs need graphing, the world is straight ahead.
It had metrics one side, inches the other.
You could see where it started
and why it stopped, a foot along,
how it ruled the flighty pen,
which petered out sideways when you dreamt.
I could have learned a lot,
understood latitude, or the border with Canada,
so stern compared to the South
and its unruly river with two names.
But that first day, meandering home, I dropped it.
Daniel J. Langton
The School Where I Studied
I passed by the school where I studied as a boy
and said in my heart: here I learned certain things
and didn’t learn others. All my life I have loved in vain
the things I didn’t learn. I am filled with knowledge,
I know all about the flowering of the tree of knowledge,
the shape of its leaves, the function of its root system, its pests and parasites.
I’m an expert on the botany of good and evil,
I’m still studying it, I’ll go on studying till the day I die.
I stood near the school building and looked in. This is the room
where we sat and learned. The windows of a classroom always open
to the future, but in our innocence we thought it was only landscape
we were seeing from the window.
The schoolyard was narrow, paved with large stones.
I remember the brief tumult of the two of us
near the rickety steps, the tumult
that was the beginning of a first great love.
Now it outlives us, as if in a museum,
like everything else in Jerusalem.
Translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld