Because our clocks have turned back, let’s go back in time to when I was in third year college student in poetry class. Finals. Had about a week to prepare for an oral recitation. Choose a poem from the book of poems we’ve been studying and recite in front of class. That was 10percent of our grade. Easy enough. So I left it to the last minute. It was a lazy weekend and all we did was watch movies in LDs (laser discs). Leafing through the book while watching, I couldn’t find anything interesting enough til I came upon this one. Imagine this:
I was 18. Just thinking and talking about boys, boys, boys. Crushes. Loads of them. That’s all I can afford, anyway. Inspired enough by one of them in my class whose name I can’t recall anymore, I thought I’d have to make my performance well. Make him want me.
Because we’ve been watching all English movies that weekend, I decided to do my poem with an English accent. Dressed in my favourite shirt, red plaid one, and stuck my nose and put my air on (just like how they do it in the movies). My name was called. Palms sweaty. Tummy in revolution. Felt like I needed to do numbers one and two. Stood in front looking at my classmate’s forehead as to pretend I was making eye contact (a tip I got from a magazine), I started.
My classmates were laughing and I was doing terrible. I stopped. I was all serious and breathy for I was in the middle of my performance. This is my grade, after all.
When I finished, everybody stood up and were clapping and shouting. Looked at my professor whose face had turned bright red and was fanning himself. He said, “I didn’t know you could do that. You’ve set the room on fire.” The greatest compliment I have ever received.
After class, a group of students ambushed me when I got out of the ladies’ room. They wanted me to say the last two lines again and again. So I did. They swooned and sighed. Then they asked me to be part of the Harlequin Theatre group to which I was very much flattered but had to decline. I’m gonna die of a heart attack if I kept doing that. It was just a one-time thing.
So, here is the poem that had set the room on fire. Get your breathy voice on:
How strongly does my passion flow,
Divided equally ’twixt two?
Damon had ne’er subdued my heart,
Had not Alexis took his part;
Nor could Alexis powerful prove,
Without my Damon’s aid, to gain my love.
When my Alexis present is,
Then I for Damon sigh and mourn;
But when Alexis I do miss,
Damon gains nothing but my scorn.
But if it chance they both are by,
For both alike I languish, sigh, and die.
Cure then, thou mighty wingèd god,
This restless fever in my blood;
One golden-pointed dart take back:
But which, O Cupid, wilt thou take?
If Damon’s, all my hopes are crost;
Or that of my Alexis, I am lost.
***Don’t remember the poem’s title. All I know is it’s from Aphra Behn, who IS English after all.
After my crush did his, my fascination quickly dissipated. He wasn’t perfect. His first line was, “I heard a buzz fly..”