Tuesday, December 6

On a kick

Poem: "You Go to School to Learn" by Thomas Lux from New & Selected Poems © Houghton Mifflin.
You Go to School to Learn

You go to school to learn to
read and add, to someday
make some money. It—money—makes
sense: you needa better tractor, an addition
to the gameroom, you prefer
to buy your beancurd by the barrel.
There's no other way to get the goods
you need. Besides, it keeps people busy
working—for it.It's sensible and, therefore, you go
to school to learn (and the teacher,
having learned, gets paid to teach you) how
to get it. Fine.
you're taught away from poetry
or, say, dancing (That's nice, dear,
but there's no dough in it). No poem
ever bought a hamburger, or not too many. It's true,
and so, every morning—it's still dark!—
you see them, the children, like angels
being marched off to execution,
or banks. Their bodies luminous
in headlights. Going to school.

This is something of the reason why I hated school as a child. I didn't know I'd have to get a job someday- or what that would be like (the proclivity for a chair and computer to suck out your soul- if you have the wrong job)- I knew that it would lead me toward the expectation of responsibility.
No that's not right. Why do we consider poetry and dancing and- say- stoytelling irresponsible? What is truly irresponsible about expressing joy; being disgustingly honest; playing? We assume adults don't play. That's what I knew.


1 comment:

Laura and John said...

I think it's because the various arts don't have a direct hand in our physical survival. The interest in expression, creativity, and enjoying the ephemeral things of life is what makes a society of people different from animals though - it's what helps us learn about ourselves, learn about history (there are many ancient cultures we only know about because of their surviving arts), and it embodies the changing thought of mankind. These things are important to help us understand our role in the world, our reasons for working and living.

I suppose the arts would be irresponsible if we all did them and died because we forgot to eat. But if all we do is eat and reproduce, that seems pretty irresponsible too.

(there's that balance-thing again)