The penultimate moment of Elizabeth Bishop’s “Filling Station”:
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
to high-strung automobiles.
As I do with most poems assigned for class, I began our exploration of “Filling Station” by reading the poem aloud. But after that, instead of asking a question or two or however many it takes to get a discussion going, I took my seat, turned the poem over to the students, and told them that I would not guide or interfere with the discussion, at least not until late in the hour.
Restraint. That’s what I had to practice that day. Even when it meant letting a promising comment go undeveloped, maybe even undetected.
Practicing restraint, I listened, on the first of what turned out to be two full periods devoted to “Filling Station,” to their animated discussion. [Read more...]