I was blessed during my early schooling with two very qualified and very dedicated teachers of English.
The first was my mother. Her specialty was grammar. Whether she listened to a speech, a sermon, a debate or even a conversation, her first and usually only comment was the critique of the grammar. "Incorrect English" was one of her favorite expressions. I remember the first time I did not knowingly use the possessive case with a gerund. Out came a rag with lava soap, (she saved the bar for bad words), and my tongue was delicately dabbed.
After "my" moving on to high school, I encountered the legendary Phoebe Day. She was equally obsessed, but in a different direction. Miss Phoebe loved teaching. Her passion was poetry. Miss Phoebe earned her legendary status from her final exam, which consisted of a fish bowl from which you drew the title of a poem along with the author. A week later the test began as each of us recited from memory our chosen ode. It was an event no one ever forgot.
Haggis Brown crossed Tennyson's bar. Wormy Hinshaw, lisp and all, did a "wonderful rendition of Paul Wevere's wide by Henwee Wadsworf Wongfellow." "Ears" Evans flew through Invictus. Finally my time came. I had drawn Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt. I have never forgotten the words and I have never forgotten the meaning of those words either.
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold: -
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"-The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
Thank you Mama, soap and all. Thank you Miss Phoebe. Thank you Leigh Hunt. And yes, you, Abou Ben Adhem.
President and Founder
The Juice Plus+ Company