The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question.
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.
This poem is for people who think they are wasting their times of their lives going to school; to people who think they should be outside, not wasting their young age. The poem is “The Hand” by Mary Ruefle. Mary starts the poem off by a scene where a teacher asks a student a question.
I personally think that this poem is about a student, who is being asked a question by the teacher, wanting freedom. A student, who is wanting to go outside, run and jump around while he or she is young enough to be able to be happy and live his or her life. At first, to be honest, I thought that this poem is about Thomas for four reasons: 1) Thomas always knows the answer to anything in any subject 2) He really thinks that he is the smartest in class, which he is, though… 3) The question is always related to him or has something to do with Thomas himself 4) He NEVER raises his hand when he answers any question, unless the teacher yells at him 5) I have FOUR reasons I think this poem is about Thomas. But at the same time, this poem linked me to image of Mina going to school. In the novel ‘Skellig’ Mina says that she went to school once but quit because she was teased by almost everyone. Maybe that could be because this happened to her, she was maybe looking outside and dreaming of freedom. Maybe then, when the teacher asked Mina a question but Mina didn’t hear it, everyone else thought that Mina didn’t know the answer to whatever question the teacher was asking. Maybe at that time, Mina was dreaming of freedom, which she has right this moment in the novel.
After reading the poem until the end, I changed my mind. Mary Ruefle used imagery for the part in the end of the poem, where it says, ‘Outside the window, on an overhanging branch, a robin is ruffling its feathers and spring is in the air’. That gave me an image of the room the student learning in is like the size of the science room at YIS, just the outside is different. Not so far from the window the student is looking out of is a big tree and the wind is blowing. You can hear the wind constantly blowing through the leaves of the trees non-stop. Suddenly, the wind stops blowing. As soon as you know it, you can hear birds chirping and flying into the tree, going into their nest, where their babies are. Chirping and flying into the tree. The birds bring worms to their babies and feed them. Tiny baby birds open their beaks; they chirp and chirp and eat and eat. The student who sees that wants freedom; the student wants to live.
If I were to explain the poem form the beginning, I would explain it like this:
A smart student like Thomas is thinking and daydreaming. The teacher asks a question, which only Thomas knows the answer. Still, he won’t answer. Instead, he is looking out the window and is daydreaming. He is thinking what it would be like to live free, without going to school when we’re so young. The teacher asks the question again, but still he won’t answer.
If you were wondering why I explained this poem like this, I would say because I think so too. Why shouldn’t we go outside and run around while we’re so young? We can learn later, when we’re old, when we can’t do anything anymore. Or at least, I would be happy to learn or study outside at this age instead of inside, where we are simply just WASTING out lives. I’m glad though, we only have to go to school for a couple of years. …Well actually, I am proud of this world because going to college is optional. (Though I know I am going to go to some kind of college someday…)But that way, people can have their decisions! It will have nothing to do with the law.