“The Girl Had Been No Problem”

“The Girl Had Been No Problem”

The girl had been no problem at the start;
She was never late, she did her work, she raised
Her hand from time to time to disapprove or praise
Whatever happened in the class, a spark,
An edge in almost every session, eager to propose
That what was studied could not please
Her more, and as she rose, the breeze to ease
The burdens of her classmates–I supposed
Them all to be her friends. Then in time a rage
Came over her: she was absent from her seat,
Arrived at times so much more than late, she asked me to repeat
What had been covered in her absence. Clouds evolve, change;
I forced a meeting with the lady, “What is it you’ve discovered?”
Said she, “I may not pass this course, but neither will the others!”

8 responses to ““The Girl Had Been No Problem”

  1. Perfect little Mystery…

    To me…

  2. Yes, well, this particular sonnet was inspired by an actual experience during a term some years back, one of those moments that I suppose any teacher goes through with the inexplicable turn of events with students of that age and in these times. I never did discover why the change in her behaviour except that it may well be that she became a little too involved with a boyfriend and something had to give; that “something” was her work in all her classes. It was her answer when I asked her what the problem was that floored me. When I asked her what she meant by that, she clammed up and refused to talk. Needless to say, ultimately, there was a conference with her parents; even so, the change was so abrupt and so “final” for her that things went from bad to worse. Apparently, she had it in her mind that if the entire class failed, it would look worse for me than it would for her. Her class did not in fact fail. God knows how she could have come up with her strategy, especially in consideration of the number of times I attempted to work with her, but in the end, she made it clear what her intention was.

  3. I liked it better when it was a mystery 🙂

  4. The upshot of this particular experience was that until then, I had never met anyone on earth with such a determination and, as a matter of fact, I have not met another one yet so overtly and candid about such a stance. I, myself, learned much from the exchange insofar as I had read or heard about something close to it even beginning with the reaction [as it apparently is recorded in Genesis] of Cain both to Abel and to God, but rarely, if ever did I come close to meeting anyone with such a perspective. Of course, since then [that was 1982] I have had much time to know and experience the implications of what it was she had in mind; it opened up the subject at least for investigation which has led to greater understanding and compassion on my part and actually made a difference in general. I don’t remember being angry or even frustrated by that young girl at the time and it was as curious a thing for me to witness this in myself as a teacher while witnessing whatever her bent and conclusions seemed to be at the time.

    You mention that you like the sonnet “better when it was a mystery,” and I think you have a point. For me, it remains a mystery and the incident with that girl sticks out with so much wonder and mystery that I actually wrote about it. For anyone else, however, perhaps it is better left to the fourteen lines and whatever these express with the “mystery” being a kind of fuel for whatever reactions a reader might have to them, which of course are then seen through the filter of their own experience. It’s part of the magic of the arts as a whole. The “…to me” portion of your posting seemed at the time an invitation to explain and clarify something of the “mystery” in the sonnet; I can see now that responding to your comment was perhaps coming up with too much information insofar as you were not really begging the question. For that, my regrets.

    Normally, I explain and clarify very little concerning anything I write. You are, however, one of only a handful of souls who has ever asked me anything concerning my sonnets, and thus the volume of “information.” Within my own particular sphere of life, few people other than stumblers who inhabit Stumbleupon even know I write anything at all. Lately, I have given my site address to others but never heard a peep from anyone about what they may have seen of my site, if they actually took the time to conjure up my site on Stumbleupon at all. Generally speaking, the writing of these sonnets has been closer to a hobby than anything else, as I may have mentioned. I have never thought of publishing anything I have written other than posting on the Stumbleupon or WordPress sites, and certainly have never been called on all that much to speak of concerning the particular or peculiar meaning of any of my poems. It is perhaps one of the main reasons I have enjoyed writing them all this time. In a sense, I have been answerable to no one and so in fact it led to them being “a kind of testament” wherein at least somewhere I have expressed whatever I have cared to express and in a manner that pleases me to no end.

    As I have said before, I still get a “bang” out of reading what I’ve written, even what I wrote a few short years ago. I happened to stumbleupon a quotation on Stumbleupon that I believe typifies my own attitude toward the content, the writing, even the audience (as slim as that audience may be) of and for what I write. It was a quotation from an interview by José Carlos Neve of some kind of author named Steve Aylett:
    What is it that attracted you to writing? What were your influences?

    A: I wrote the sort of books I wanted to read. The writers I had liked a lot as I was growing up were Voltaire, Ray Bradbury, Kerouac, Brautigan, Whitman, JP Donleavy, Dostoievsky, those are the ones that spring to mind but I read loads of stuff from all over. After reading a few thousand books and finding a lot of duplication and unoriginality, I was getting a bit antsy and wanting something different and of a very particular quality which I couldn’t find out there – an intensity and lushness, richness, and a sort of immediacy that doesn’t waste people’s time.
    So I ended up having to write it myself, in order to then sit about and read it.
    I set about writing the kind of book I would like to read, and like a fool I seem to still be doing that.

    I cared little for whether or not Aylett was merely bulling; I’ve read absolutely nothing of his. What struck me was the motive he expressed when he explained whatever influenced his writing. I had until then never seen anyone else with arrogance enough to express such a thought…except me, and I have rarely if ever told anyone that much about where I got the chutzpah to write what I write without cessation and for over five years, until I came across you, and you, oddly, asked and so I’ve been writing.

    All of which is to say that, yes! It was probable that any enjoyment you had in that sonnet was lessened by the fact that I wrote some explanation as to the source of its content. You’ll pardon me for that. Frankly, I’m not all that used to discussing my sonnets with anyone. I only rarely have the opportunity of discussing literature as a whole with anyone outside my own classroom and since I have retired, not at all.

  5. It’s very strange…

    I got another comment from you in this thread in my email but it isn’t appearing here on the blog………………….?????

  6. I just read your response that showed up in my email but not here.

    I just love that a mystery is occurring in the comments of a poem that I found a sweet little mystery 🙂

    And, you’re adding commentary after I’d said it was a mystery really didn’t, even though I said I liked it better when it was a mystery, stop me liking it as a mystery. That woman is still a mystery and my comment should have been, “I still feel it as a mystery” 🙂

    Your quoting that author about writing what he couldn’t find reminded me of a video of Steven King when he was extolling the benefits of massive reading and inturrupted himself to say that a writer will come to a point in their reading where they’ll say, “I can do better than that!”

    I can hope and pray that you take your body of sonnets (whenever you feel the right number have been created) and publish them. I may be strange but I’m not unique–there are many other people who would love your work!!

    I’d recommend you check out FastPencil as I’m finding them the best of the newest alternatives for self-publishing…

  7. Alexander: to clear up the “mystery” of the missing comment, I did in fact post that comment you read, but, at the same time, in thinking on it, it occurred to me that there is such a thing as overkill when it comes to the moderation of even the finest and best-intentioned action as we both know from Bahá’u’lláh, :

    “Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.”
    ―Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 143

    It occurred to me that I really do not know you all that well, or well enough to know if the effect of such lengthy messages may be burdensome to you. I then deleted that long comment, but apparently, at least in your email, you received it anyway. Your reaction to that message was well received, by the way, I feel there was no real harm done by my message, but it is true that no matter what my intention or yours, nothing Bahá’u’lláh ever wrote can easily dismissed or ignored, and so the caution on my part and the deleting of that message.

    That should clear up the mystery. Your statement about the effects of learning of the background or inspiration of that poem was not clear to me and it occurred to me that possibly I had sent too much information for comfort and that it may have intruded on your original reaction to the sonnet; for me, of course, the incident and the protagonist, herself, remain a mystery to me even after all these years. At any rate, I am not particularly all that fascinated with mystery [albeit I address mysteries much of the time when writing my sonnets] and with me, it is because I am not all that into mysteries that I feel as free as I do to write about what are apparently mysterious aspects in this world.

  8. Mystery solved 🙂

    May I say again that I feel, strongly, that your work needs to be published!!!

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