December 6th, 2005

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You Go to School to Learn

I heard this read on “The Writers’ Almanac” this morning and it not only struck a chord with me, I can think of several friends it might strike chords with, also.

You Go to School to Learn

You go to school to learn to
read and add, to someday
make some money. It—money—makes
sense: you need
a better tractor, an addition
to the gameroom, you prefer
to buy your beancurd by the barrel.
There’s no other way to get the goods
you need. Besides, it keeps people busy
working–for it.
It’s sensible and, therefore, you go
to school to learn (and the teacher,
having learned, gets paid to teach you) how
to get it. Fine. But:
you’re taught away from poetry
or, say, dancing (That’s nice, dear,
but there’s no dough in it).
No poem
ever bought a hamburger, or not too many. It’s true,
and so, every morning—it’s still dark!—
you see them, the children, like angels
being marched off to execution,
or banks. Their bodies luminous
in headlights. Going to school.

Thomas Lux

(from New & Selected Poems, © Houghton Mifflin)