Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mud Time

For some reason, the title "Two Tramps in Mud Time" popped into my mind recently and stuck. I suppose the phenomenon is not unlike when a song suddenly pops into your head. I find that when that happens, as if often does, if I pay close attention to the lyrics of the song, I cannot help but notice that the lyrics are usually completely appropriate to the situation at hand. The song has popped into my consciousness for a reason, just as a crossword answer pops up after hours of spending attention elsewhere, just as the solution to a math problem reveals itself once the problem is ignored. Introspection is an important endeavor, but it seems to me that the mind introspects involuntarily and can emit insights even when you are not looking for them.

The bouncy lyric, "I get knocked down, but I get up again" has popped into my head while teaching a difficult class, and I don't own or even particularly like the song. Apt, though, yes. "Who let the dogs out?" pops up when one too many people interrupt a class to summon a student. A favorite? No. Apt? Yes. Many more toe-tapping or hum-along tunes haunt me, but this Frost poem, its suddenly unavoidable presence in my mind is really quite a step up for my subconscious.

After reading the poem again, I was stunned by the last eight lines:

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

Despite the obstructionist district in which I work, the work itself--inspiring students to open their minds and their hearts, while reveling in truth and beauty all day--is for me where "love and need are one / And the work is play for mortal stakes." The alliterative frankness of the title "Two Tramps in Mudtime" beckoned me to have another close look at this poem, only to find that these last eight lines completely encapsulate what I feel about my chosen career. And to think, this poem, like those silly songs, just popped into my head for no apparent reason.  

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