Why Literature is so Personal?

Yesterday I heard a few complaints, about a student who does not respond in Online Classes. He simply ignores all modes of addressing by the teachers, never speaks out at all.

However, during my sessions, strangely, he is the one who constantly talks! I had no idea the child is so reticent otherwise. It was unbelievable.

What then, makes him speak in one class and hold back in the other.

Interest in the subject?

Maybe, but I know he is not literature-wise; I conduct their Language and Literature Classes. What is it then?

The point is, Literature is more personal. The poet or the writer is someone who you relate with. The most honest writings with far reaching effects are ones that are lucid and/ or autobiographical. The other day we talked about “Losses”. We were reading “The Ball Poem”. I had prepared a list of questions before even starting the session. Sort of a pre reading task. It preps you for what is coming ahead. And it mostly works.

These were my questions:

1. When was the first time you cried over the loss of something precious?

2. Were you offered any consolation? Did that help?

3. Now if you see a kid in trouble, crying over the loss of some important possession, do you reach out and console?

4. How does the experience of losing anything change a person?

And here is the poem that was to be studied…

The Ball Poem


BY JOHN BERRYMAN


What is the boy now, who has lost his ball.
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say ‘O there are other balls’:
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street,
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight.
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

A simple yet profound insight on how coping with losses is necessary. Students talked about their experiences…like losing an ipad! A teddy bear! A bicycle!… These might seem superficial, but they meant the world at some stage.

I’m glad I don’t teach Science or Geography!!😃

Well, the questions above are for all of us to ponder.

How do losses change us?

Magnanimously…I would say.

P.S. – What answers would you give to these questions??

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