Saturday, August 21, 2010

Latin/ On Leaving the University

If I've learned anything in the past few months of blogging, it's that the public sphere can be a treacherous place for a tender little heart. And yet...
I had intended to share a clip of Billy Collins (2008 Poet Laureate) reading his poem Litany, but ended up, after three minutes of frantic typing, with this. It surprised me, too. Sometimes my brain communicates directly with my fingers and fails to check in with the shy editors in my frontal lobe.

"They say you've not truly arrived until your name is followed by a Latin phrase. No, they don't say that. I say that. But I don't mean it. I'm sure you can be very accomplished without being summa cum-laude or poet laureate. Without Greek symbols of your intelligence hanging in dipped gold around your neck. Without confusing people; are you a Free Mason? Greek Orthodox or something? Without the silly ceremonies where mothers and cheerleaders alike cross their hearts and swear to add their sweat beads of wisdom to the intimidatingly large pot. Where favorite professors in black robes knight you, press you into service. Convince you to ride shotgun and fight ignorance. And you ARE convinced. You see yourself moving amongst those time-worn halls till the End of Days. Smelling nothing but books and libraries and Fall, seeing tops of heads bowed down low at the sound of your lecturing voice. And bright eyes. You think of what chair you would put in your office and the eager girls who will sit there...a lifetime of sculpture and syllabi and research mixing with plants in your big-windowed house. But you take communion only half believing in your visions. And you could stay forever but you rise and walk out, your black robe billowing, your medals making hollow clanks at your neck. Those who have come to watch you, they only half believe too. And you can't make it real. The vision only goes so far, and you can't see your family or the Forever from the big-windowed house. Just books. A beautiful desk. Your preferred pencils. The soft light on your aging face. And you walk out into the rain and you don't go back."

p.s.-gone to Malibu...back Thursday. Talk amongst yourselves.

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