Many decades after graduation
the students sneak back onto
the school-grounds at night
and within the pane-lit windows
catch me their teacher at the desk
or blackboard cradling a chalk:
someone has erased their youth,
and as they crouch closer to see
more it grows darker and quieter
than they have known in their lives,
the lesson never learned surrounds
them; why have they come? Is
there any more to memorize now
at the end than there was then”
What is it they peer at through shades
of time to hear, X times X repeated,
my vain efforts to corner a room’s
snickers? Do they mock me? Forever?
Out there my past has risen in
the eyes of all my former pupils but
I wonder if behind them others
younger and younger stretch away
to a world where dawn will never
ring its end, its commencement bell.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Bill Knott's poem An Instructor’s Dream

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