During the end of my career as a sixth grade teacher I decided to educate my male students in the arts of romance. Not that I was such a great Romeo, but that I was old enough to have made and reflected upon most of the mistakes it is possible to make in this arena.
Poetry has always been the language of love, so I of course thought to use a poem to open the door to the conversation. I asked the boys in my class: “If you are talking to a girl you are interested in, do you think she’d rather hear your latest Nintendo high scores, or the words of the Chilean Nobelist, Pablo Neruda ?
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
Dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.
The response was inevitably the same. Lots of wrinkled brows, a few hmmms, whispers from the girls, “Cherry trees! Cherry trees!”, and finally their answer: “Nintendo.”
Poets are shaped by experience, and these young men must learn their lessons like I did, and Neruda before me. And some future day, when they too have hopefully blossomed, their poems may express what life has taught to them.