The Internet was sluggish all day, and I could not get access to the student powerpoint files they had prepared for the day. The classroom was still tropical from the sophomore bodies that had just finished their English block. So, for the final period of the day, I stood before the twenty sets of glazed eyes and thought, What to do? What to do?
Well, I could take the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s advice very literally.
Wordworth’s poem “The Tables Turned” is eight quatrains of verse that beg the reader to go outside in order to let “Nature be your teacher.” Readers are advised to “Close up those barren leaves” and “Come, hear the woodland linnet.” Wordsworth warns that, staying inside to study will result in growing “double.”
So what did we do today? We went outside in order to learn from Nature’s “Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health/
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.”
THE TABLES TURNED
AN EVENING SCENE ON THE SAME SUBJECT
UP! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
The sun, above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet, 10
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless–
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness. 20
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:–
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves; 30
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.