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Poets at Play

Christine Perrin and
David Rothman, Ph.D.

Ars Poetica:
The Printmaker in Assisi
by Christine Perrin

The printmaker bursts his throat
telling us about light, telling us
about the hillside unveiling
in sequence each new day,
each hour—the sun layered
like paint on groves of olives
or lines of dark cypress that spill,
no, are quilted, diagonally
across the field. The saturated green
is one thing next to yellow
and another against white stone;
it flames if he etches a border
and fills it with red from burnt ocher.
In one print he varies the sweep
of light from right to left,
another manifests the rain
in its dim blueness. Think
how his eyes tended the hill
and his hand traced it,
then tore out the shapes
to uncover its gratuity,
its teeming abundance.
This is the earth where Francis,
also in pattern, picked up stone
after stone to rebuild
the ruined church and learned
from the finch about gold.

Moth’s Song
by David Rothman, Ph.D.
Moth: “Hail!” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

All you guys ever do is try to measure,
As if that could tell you who you are:
“How high? How bright? How dumb? How dark? How far
Away to pain? To grief? How much for pleasure?
How long for light to travel from that star?”
But what’s the news when you get down to treasure?
When you subtract your dollars from your leisure?
Review the years since you embraced each scar?
Tonight, the shortest of the year, the moon
Is full of honey. Sunset lasts forever.
Gratuitous forgiving cannot fail:
Come on, let it be now, you ass, and soon
That lovers wander, never knowing never.
My song? It has only one word: “Hail!”

By intentionally cultivating students’ abilities to recognize and produce beautiful artifacts–music, drawings, poetry, drama, etc.–K-12 classical education provides young people with the rudiments of a beautiful life.

As Sir Roger Scruton says in his short book on the subject, “Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways.

The printmaker bursts his throat telling us about light, telling us about the hillside unveiling in sequence each new day, each hour—the sun layered like paint on groves of olives or lines of dark cypress that spill, no, are quilted, diagonally across the field.

In 1877, George Eliot wrote that she believed she had coined the term “meliorism,” meaning the belief that the world tends to improve, and we can help to improve it. The word was probably in circulation before that, but she certainly drew attention to it and is always associated with it today.

With practiced grace, Mr. Kolb tucks a violin under his chin and places the bow on the strings, and the students’ own bows–silently, instantly–leap to their own instruments. He pauses to remind them to “Walk up to the first note, don’t play it,” and then he slices the strings and they launch into “French Folk Song,” a Suzuki standby.

Virtue is the flagship publication of the Institute for Classical Education. It disseminates stories, ideas, research and experiences in classical education to readers across the nation, helping them pursue the classical ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty.

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