This week's short poem comes once again from my father's dear friend John Ridland. John has become a reader of this blog, and he sent me this after reading my post last week on grading. A long-time English professor at UCSB, he knows better than most the anxieties -- and misplaced certainties -- that come with marking student papers. With his kind permission, I reprint this fine piece.
"An experienced teacher can grade anything.”
––An experienced teacher
He grades the cat on being cat
(straight A), the grapefruit on juiciness
(B+) and sweetness (B), his wife
on sleeping soundly (last night, D
minus)he grades the morning (C
plus, Be more definite), the dog
for coming quickly when she’s called
(A‑‑, good dog, good dog), for
fetching the paper (Fetch it!--F).
In broad daylight he grades the moon
last night at midnight, Well defined,
clear and complete (pure A, pure A);
his breakfast lunch and dinner (Pass);
his shoes (Unsatisfactory);
of course he grades the morning paper
(low C for content, C for form);
the window (B, maybe B‑‑,
Try to be more imaginative).
He grades the way he drives to school
(B+ woops, D), the radio--
rather, its choice of music (A
+, for Segovia’s guitar
followed by Goodman’s clarinet),
the fat opossum in the road
(plain D for Dead), the old man trudging
in red sweatsuit and jogging shoes
(Not Pass), the parking lot (OK),
colleagues for cordiality
(A, B, C, D, none of the above)
and courage in the line of duty
(Withheld: cf. the Privacy Act).
He’s graded God (You should do better
than this, with Your Advantages.
Try to improve by putting more
of Yourself into it: C‑‑);
and homo sapiens (Barely passing,
YOU ARE IN TROUBLE!); and himself
(Delivery, B; Coherence, C;
Organization, D; Good will,
A! A!), and grades his grading (C,
Inflated, whimsical), his life
(B+ as far as it goes, keep going);
Tomorrow and tomorrow and
tomorrow (Where’s your outline? C,
No, Incomplete. Please see me soon.