Monday, September 10, 2007

Letter to a teacher

I read this, long back in school. I liked it then, and I liked it even better when a few years later, my Dad took me through the simple, yet profound beauty of the lines.
But how truly heart-stirring a piece it is, only strikes me now, as Sonny boy gets ready for formal schooling... and I wonder how he will fare at the end of it all...

A moving tribute to the value of a teacher and the greatness of a loving father....
I guess this is an eternal request from the hearts of all parents.

My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. It is an adventure that might take him across continents. Adventures that probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live this life will require faith, love and courage. So dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know, teaching him - but gently, if you can.

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader...
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick...
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books...
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat...
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong...
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon...
Teach him to listen to all men...
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad...
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness...
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he's right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient...
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do...
He is such a fine fellow,
my son!


aargee said...

oh! what a lovely letter and a poem. Liked it very much :)

Moppet's Mom said...

Have seen this before - it really is lovely, isn't it?

Fuzzylogic said...

I had seen this before. It moves me everytime I read it. What a lovely poem!

Just Like That said...

Argee, MM, Fuzzy: Like I said, it becomes so much more touching now that we have kids of our own.

Yesterday, I was reading about Lincoln on the net and apparently one of his sons passed away young. And I was feeling sad and wondering if it was to that son's teacher that he wrote this...

WhatsInAName said...

That was a beautiful poem! I am memorising it now :)

Squiggles Mom said...

Oh that's simply beautiful.