Academic journal article English Journal

Dear Ezra: A Commission for High School English Teachers

Academic journal article English Journal

Dear Ezra: A Commission for High School English Teachers

Article excerpt

Go now, my songs, to the lonely and unsatisfied

-Ezra Pound

Dear Ezra, welcome to my home on Chenango Street

in Binghamton, New York. Look out the back window

at the river. The trees are bare now. Later, we'll walk

the streets whose names ring like tiny glass bells:

Linden, Ballard, Bigelow, Robinson, Riverside, Amsbry,

Woodland, Lucy, Lookout, Larchmont. My catalogue

of ships is a list of streets in this backwater. I've tried

to write paradise in their potholes; Ezra, hear the music

they make. Let the wind speak, dear Ezra. We won't

speak about the difficulties I've had navigating The Cantos

or discuss The ABC's of Reading. I forbid you to talk

about how the ant is a centaur in this dragon world,

or to use any obscure metaphors like that. Instead,

I'd like to tell you how I've hung a copy of your poem

"Commission" in my high school English classroom.

Your adolescents smothered in their families remind me

of my students and your women strangled in their ennuis

remind me of my co-workers. How strange it is, Ezra,

to walk into work at 7 a.m., to walk into the empty

corridors that smell of chalk dust, disinfectant,

and the mustiness of old books. How strange, Ezra,

that each day I know I will teach 125 teenagers,

who don't care for the classics and wouldn't read them

even if they did have a wide circulation. …

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