Hang on to the curious verb tense  in the title of this post: I’ll come back to that in the end. Here’s the context.

I was blessed last week, amid the confluent good feelings of spring’s fresh imagery


From the pens of youthful fancy flow both the ridiculous and the sublime.

commingled with end-of-the-school-year euphoria, to take a couple of classes out to the shady areas in front of St. Anthony’s church. They invented poetic thoughts about artifacts—-objects they found on the grounds—-exploring topics ranging from the deep and wonderful to the trite and ridiculous. Here are some choice excerpts:

I chucked at this philosophical sophomore’s opening tercet from a variation on the villainelle:

“Life is like a ball. / Bouncy ball / Life goes down and up.”

This young lady found a yellow rose growing on a shrub in front of the rectory. Her descriptive opening stanza is simple but euphonious:

“A yellow rose, / full of life and beauty / living for all to admire.

This 15 year old girl’s observations on a faded flower show some poetic sensitivity, for sure:

“Flowering red with its past life / withering of death / Beauty at its most bare wit.”

Some showed spiritual impulses, influenced no doubt by the shadows of the church that covered us that morning:

“Death is drawing near / not afraid, for God is there / let us go to eternity with Christ / for he has shown us the stages of life.”

Truly, teaching writing, especially when students make connections between their hearts and their minds, rewards the most (perhaps since I, too, write). In fact, even though my long career in rhetoric and poetics has acquainted me with greatest imaginative compositions in literature, I can be more deeply moved at the simple elegance of a ninth grader’s insight. Observe how the following piece by one of my freshman writers strikes a deep sentiment rooted in that mysterious instinct of her teacher who has lived and loved long enough to measure the freshness of youthful fancy against time’s merciless assault on flesh and bones:

Oh so beautiful
we once are
Then time will change us.

A wonderful gift
God has made
To share with the world

but long over time
we will change
let our soul define us.

The story of Life
the beginning
to the end, we change.

“How beautiful we once are”—-Didn’t she mean once were? No, I hope not.”  We once were” would have been a cliche. “We once are” is ever so hopeful! Even though the piece goes on to note the inevitability of change wrought by time, its message breathes hope as it refers to God’s gift of creation and the power of our God-given souls to define us.

Yes,  how beautiful we once are! Even the old teachers. And so are these eloquent children whose innocent voices probe the unfathomable depths of truth—-truth that they may not understand for many years to come. May God bless their moving innocence, and may God bless those who strive to teach and enlighten them!