One of my favorite poems is Yeats’s “The Song of Wandering Aengus;” it’s a magical poem that is mostly about the imagination and “seeking our bliss,” although it can seem like a strange love poem after a first read. Anyhow, I am back on the road, wandering “through hollow lands / And hilly lands,” visiting Olympia (last week) and Twisp and Brewster and Okanogon and Royal City this week–with many more smaller towns on the schedule. The students have been wonderful–full of bright ideas and great energy–and the teachers have been equally great. When I witness the teachers’ care with younger people, with these delicate and impressionable vessels, I’m filled with such admiration–and energy to go more places, try to do more. Today was especially motivating; at the Okanogon Middle School, we wrote poems and talked about language, and the students were so generous sharing their creativity, so full of smart comments–and caring comments–that I didn’t even feel tired driving back West over the mountains to Winthrop. We talked about “what mattered to them,” some of their favorite words. i read a few poems by Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. One student said that his greatest fear was to lose his family. Another described how she watched the 69 Camaro that was soon to be her car burn in their yard last summer. They trusted me with words and thoughts and poems, and I was so grateful for that trust. Walt Whitman writes about turning your life into a poem, and although I usually talk about that at schools, I felt no need to do so today–they get it, have got it, are doing it.
I’ll be driving and meeting many people this fall–chasing the magic silver and golden apples–and although I’ll sometimes tire of driving, I doubt that I will tire of these young bards and their magical words.