• Terry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Rime at Lundy's Lane

My grade 7 English teacher at Lundy's Lane school in Kingston, I wish I could remember her name, gave us a challenge at the start of the first semester. Each student had to memorize and then recite in front of the whole class, 100 lines of poetry before the end of the semester in December. Everyone groaned.


I was excited about English class, my love of writing was already long kindled, but poetry? Gah!


As September turned into autumn, the chart the teacher had hung to record everyone's progress, showed a smattering of effort by most students. Except me. My line remained empty.


By the time Remembrance Day was celebrated, most of the students were more than half-way there. Except me. My line remained empty.


Every week or so the teacher would stop by my desk and make some comment on my lack of effort. By the end of the first week of December, some students were almost complete. But not me. My line remained empty.


That day the teacher asked who was ready to recite any lines and she looked right at me. I liked this English teacher, she was stern but encouraging. She gave good feedback. Some of the other students didn't like her, but I did. When she gave me that look, I thought 'she doesn't like me'. I think it was more she was disappointed by my lack of effort.


When no one else put up their hand, I raised mine. I could hear shuffles and giggles behind me, I was sitting at the front of the class. The teacher's face grew into a smile.


I stood and turned to the class and recited The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, approximately 635 lines. I had loved the poem, I even purchased the Cole's Notes to better understand it, and I learned the story which made remembering the lines so much easier. I had actually had it memorized before Halloween but wanted to draw out the drama.


In one swoop I had completed the semester challenge, beating out all the other students, even the smart ones. As well, I was a hero that day because it took so long to recite it that we skipped the next class and were into lunch before I finished. The feeling I had that day was brought back to me many years later while reading "The Life if Pi" when I read about the day Picine recited pi to so many decimal points, earning him his nickname.


A suitable moniker was never endowed upon me for my feat that day but I never forgot how it felt to surprise everyone and to please the teacher, all with a collection of stanzas that I thoroughly enjoyed. Now if I could only remember her name.


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