H. R. Blyth wrote, “Wherever there is a poetical action, a religious aspiration,a heroic thought, or a union of the nature within man and the Nature without, there is Zen.”
Prompt: Respond to one or more elements of Blyth’s perspective.
“As I’m sure you remember,” the teacher said, “last week I asked you to participate in a poetical action, and to write about that for today. Who would like to go first?”
Ben Johnson raised his hand: “I’ll go first. I decided to pay attention to whatever action I saw and what happened after that action; then, I described the action in one line and wrote about what happened in a second line, and I rhymed the two lines.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“For example,” Ben Johnson said: ‘The rising sun/The daylight hours have begun.’ And another one: “The ringing alarm/It is time to farm.'”
“What do you know about farming?” Raymond Iverson asked from the back of the room. “Both your parents are dentists.”
“First of all, Iverson, my dad is an endodontist; and, second of all, you don’t have to be a farmer to know that they get up and start working when their alarm goes off.”
“I don’t see,” the teacher said, “that the poems you wrote complete the assignment I gave.”
“Sure they do,” Ben Johnson said. “You wanted us to connect action and poetry and that’s what I’ve done. Here’s another one from yesterday morning: ‘The frying bacon/My family will partake in.'”
“Can you do that?” a boy by the window asked. “Can you rhyme one word with two words?”
“That challenging question,” Ben Johnson said, enamored of his new-found talent, “Reveals a rhyming obsession.”
“I’m not sure,” the teacher said, “that those last two lines makes sense, but more importantly, I was hoping for poetry action rather than action poetry.”
“I don’t see the difference,” Ben said.
“I think the difference should be obvious,” the teacher said.
Ben didn’t respond immediately, and during the moment he paused to think, everyone in the room awaited the inevitable, and finally it came: “The confusing assignment/calls for further definement.”
From two rows behind Ben, Emily Thompson spoke: “I’m going to talk about what I did, just so he’ll stop.”
“Proceed,” the teacher said, and Emily Thompson got out of her desk and walked to the front of the room.
To be continued . . .