Monday, 14 December 2009

Random acts of kindness

I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog that I am a T.S. Eliot fan, yes? Well just to recap, I am a T.S. Eliot fan.

A few weeks ago I had some time off so I made my way to London for the day, and like all cool people I chose to hang out in the British Library. What an awesome place. Until I got kicked out because of an accidental attack of phone ringing, which is just typical, because no one on this earth phones me, ever, so I forgot I even have a phone, and the day I hang out in the freaking British Library that houses the Gutenberg bible and Shakespeare's folios, someone finds it imperative to phone me. Oh well. Byegones.

But before I got moved along I happened upon an exhibition of T.S Eliot's publishing life. He worked for Faber and Faber publishing house and was responsible for discovering and publishing most of the great poets of that time. There were also recordings of the actual poets reading their own poems which was just too awesome. They were all soooo posh; poetry doesn't exactly bring home the bacon so I am assuming they came from wealthy families and had other means of survival.

So I heard T.S. Eliot reading his poem "Preludes", you know the one with "the burnt out ends of smoky days" from the Memory song in Cats? It was wonderful. He had that ridiculously posh old Englishy-Germanish accent with the potato in the mouth, how the Queen speaks. Even though he was American. Whatever.

That poem has some of my favouritest lines ever, like these:

...You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.

Yeah it was pretty close on orgasmic.

Anyway, my poetry class ended last week and I am still in mourning. My teacher is such a kind, wonderful man. It was the last class he was ever teaching because he was quitting to concentrate on his PhD. So to say goodbye he bought us each a poetry book, based on our writing and who he thought we would like. And for me he chose a T.S. Eliot book!

Ironically he had asked us to bring our favourite poems along and of course I took a few Eliot poems with me, but I was too shy to read them out loud, I just could not do them justice.

How he guessed my thing about T.S. Eliot I do not know. But that random act of human kindness really bowled me over. Who buys each of their students a book based on their personal style? And knows us well enough to get it so right?

I feel like crying just thinking about it. People that kind break my heart.


Anonymous said...

That is so awesome. That book will always have such value to you, more so than if it was just a TS Elliot book you bought.

Damaria Senne said...

Wow. he really paid attention. People like are what keeps me optimistic about humanity.

EEbEE said...

Wow, these peoms really make me want to vomit all over my radio when I listen to the lyrics in modern music...

...or maybe that's just the faint smell of stale beer.

Mental images well painted in any case!

Dora said...

Ah...I am a sucker for teachers giving me books as well. My heart just melts....

For my high school graduation essay (4000 words, which at the time, we all thought must be the longest thing anyone has ever written...), we can choose to write on anything we want. For reasons unknown, I choose to do a study of John Donne's poems.

When I graduated, my English teacher gave me a big book of his poetry, which I was and am still very very touched about.

Then in uni., I chatted to this professor about twice on science, religion and god, and then he just gave me three books on the subject. No other professor in uni. gave students like me the time of day, but here is this guy who not only welcomes open chats with me about off-topic stuff, but gifted me with 3 books. I still remember him, and always will.

boldly benny said...

Wow that exhibit sounds amazing. You go to a poetry class! I feel so stoopid in comparison!

Anonymous said...

Aw Po-tjie you are such a sensitive soul. And your teacher sounds like such an awesome guy and that you learnt a lot from him.

I read somewhere that you shouldn't cry because its over; you should smile because it happened.

I'd love a rocking teacher like that!

po said...

qcc: so true. I will always remember my awesome teacher.

Damaria: I know me too! That kind of personal act acknowledging that a person has thought about you individually and actually got to know you just blows me away. There are people like that out there.

EEbEE: funny you should say that, I find most of my writing inspiration from modern music! Some lyrics are so good even if they don't make sense, because they blend with the music and make pictures in my mind... but there are very few musicians that write good lyrics though. Michael Stipe from R.E.M is my fvourite musical poet.

Dora: wow, you have had some special teachers! I will never forget my teacher either, his gift was really touching.

BoldlyBenny: going to a poetry class has nothing to do with intelligence, all you need is the dough to pay for the class! Anyone can do it. And I mean anyone.

Paula: I am sensitive indeed! I come across in real life as cold and hard as stone, but really I just hide my feelings and am a lump of squishy goo inside :)

I like that saying!

LadyFi said...

What a wonderful experience - both your teacher's act of kindness as well as hearing Eliot reading his own poems aloud!


Anonymous said...

We did Preludes in Matric! By that time of course I was a Cat's fan (still am) which naturally means I have a bit of a thing for Elliot. Although I am not as passionate about poetry (wouldn't really try to write at the moment) I love you teacher - he sounds very special!