In 1989, Frederick “Rick” Lamore, my AP English teacher at Gibbs High School, handpicked snippets of poems for each of his students upon graduation. Rick chose for me these last lines of Robert Frost‘s “Birches” (and if he gave them to you, too, I don’t want to know about it because I still have that damn piece of paper. I cherish it).
I think these words show what the English language is capable of. May I share them with you?:
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Nice, huh? It’s a great sentiment for a secretly sappy iconoclast like me. Oh, Rick, you saw right through me.
What a great teacher!