My day job for the summer is teaching Composition II at a small community college. Summer classes here are filled with non-traditional students who are managing a full time job, family and struggling with finances to get ahead.
Our final paper for the 5 week course is applying a poem or song to an event or moment in our life. I covered “Nuns Fret Not…” (see below) as an example in class discussion…I love this poem and have since college. Weirdo I know. But there is something that has always encouraged me about life in it. No matter how limiting life or finances can be (will be), how defeated I feel at times as a writer, happiness is on me. We doom ourselves to the prison of our own minds and comparison.
I know Wordsworth is writing about the Sonnet form, but I tried to explain to my class that for me the sonnet was a metaphor for life in that, the only thing that can limit my creativity is me. So there are difficult standards and rules, and or in life limited finances that all feel like they can be constricting; they don’t have to be. How much more is creativity when it can flourish on such “scanty ground.” It is a bit like a middle finger to life that you got this no matter what.
They got it and dove in and created some great papers. Thanks to my class for inspiring me.
Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room
Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, into which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.