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July 31st, 2009

In Memoriam

My high school English teacher, Miss Cunningham, passed away yesterday. She taught at the high school for something like 41 years or so and will be greatly missed. She introduced me to reading classic literature (I mean the "real" classics like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc.) and made Shakespeare understandable and even fun.

So today I am blogging some of the Shakespeare quotes we had to recite in her class (I'll only post portions of the speeches, but we had to memorize and recite the entire speech).

From Julius Cesar, we have Antony's speech from Act 3 Scene 2:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.

From Hamlet, we have in Act 3 Scene 1, Hamlet's famous speech:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

The study of Macbeth found us reciting his speech from Act 2 Scene 1:

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

And Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet provided us reason to recite:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.

And/or Juliet's speech from the same act and scene:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

And though I don't believe we had to recite it in class, I seem to remember memorizing Katharina's speech from Act 5 Scene 2 of Taming of the Shrew (maybe I needed extra credit or something):

Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.

Yes, those are some good memories. Though things weren't always happy in her class. She did have a tendency to make our homework bleed. Oh the countless red pens who willingly placed themselves in Miss Cunningham's hands and selflessly gave their ink to correct our numerous mistakes.

Her tough love and endless homework made her students more knowledgeable and prepared them for their futures, but it was her love and compassion for each one of us that made us love her and this is the Miss Cunningham we will miss most. She was never to busy for a student who needed to talk.

These words from Macbeth (Act 5 Scene 5) I also seem to remember reciting (probably more extra credit) and were never more appropriate than now:

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more . . .

And now Miss C is free from the earthly binds of teaching hard headed students and grading endless papers. May she rest in peace.

I can't help but feel sorry for the students who will never get to be in her class now (she had planned to continue teaching this year)

=(

Write on.