Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Writer's Notebooks & a Literary Gift

I'm grading them. Just a modest stack, because the class is tiny--only 27. Of course there are two space cadets with lame excuses. But I am reading S's, and she shared part of Langston Hughes' "Freedom's Plow" with me--wrote it out on her own, even.  And though there is a part of me, a cynical calloused part that has worked decades with Artful Dodgers, less-than-honest 8th graders too long to believe that everyone who shares stuff with the teacher does it without a hidden Eddie Haskell motive, I believe this girl is for real.  She wrote out these first few stanzas:

Freedom's Plow


 When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.

First in the heart is the dream-
Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world,
On the great wooded world,
On the rich soil of the world,
On the rivers of the world.

The eyes see there materials for building,
See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks
 tools to cut the wood,
To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help,
A community of hands to help-
Thus the dream becomes not one man’s dream alone,
But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone,
But your world and my world,
Belonging to all the hands who build.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And I read this and got tears in my eyes because this is my September Dream. Every year without fail, I want this community dream. I want Us. I want Ours. I look at the rich soil and the woods, the obstacles, all these students and their potential and challenges...the September Dream drives me on for moments like this, infinite in potential and awash with kid love. I have the best job in the world. I get to be with people like S. 

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