Monday, November 18, 2013

Love Poem to My School


Today I opened a small book to enter the large world of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He was a Jesuit priest who was a conflicted poet and crafted perhaps some of the most intense, dense and condensed poems in the English language. He was a master of alliteration and wrote whole essays on the intricacies of his theories of poetic rhythms. Though Christ and God enter his work, he mostly praises their handiwork—sea and skylarks, rose-moles and brinded-cows, kingfishers and dragonflies and other glories of this sweet earth.

This morning, my eye fell on a casual poem he wrote in the visitor’s book at a place called Penmaen Pool. It struck me that by keeping the form and cadence and changing the words, I could write an ode to my place of work, The San Francisco School. Many years back I wrote a song about the school to the tune of The Girl from Ipanema that we still sing at graduation and Side by Side is informally our national anthem, but I thought it would be distinctive to have a school poem. As my mind began churning, there was a familiarity to it all and due to some surprising organization on my part, I actually found it on my computer— I had done this back in 2008!! So today, I added one verse, re-thought a few things and voila! our school poem was re-born. And so I offer it here. Best if read out loud.

POEM TO THE SF SCHOOL
(Derived from and parts outright stolen from Gerard Manley Hopkin’s Penmaen Pool)

Who long for rest, who look for pleasure
Away from counter, court or pool.
Oh where live well your lease of leisure
But here at, here at SF School?

You’ll dare the drum, you’ll risk the riff,
Each craft has here its tackle and tool.
Come clasp the crevice and climb the cliff
Ascend the scale at SF School.

From what’s yonder past  freeway’s roar,
That crooked world of cool or cruel,
Those droning dreams that bellow or bore,
You’ll find respite at SF School.

You’ll build pink towers, trace sanded letter
Sketch a cat, a dog, a mule
Let go best and strive for better
‘longside your friends at SF School.

Here’s both sun and stormy weather,
Both blazing heat and gusty cool.
Where side by side we walk together
Here at The San Francisco School.

Here we touch-taste-smell and see
And stitch it through with Golden Rule,
We are the change we want to be,
Though mere mortals we at SF School.

Here parents play and parents pay
And parents pray for teachers who’ll
Lift their children into the day
Of learning loving at their school.

So come who pine for peace or pleasure
Away from counter, court or pool,
Spend here your measure of time and treasure
And taste the treats of SF School.

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