“Twas the Day of the Test”
Dedicated to James R. Bissell
This poem written by Victor Chayet’ 81 delighted me when I read in 1978. It’s a gracious and gentle tribute to Victor’s Middle School English teacher and a wonderful way to end our journey of almost two years through Graland history from its founding until 2002. More than two hundred postings later -- and editing waiting in the wings, I post my final “column” in the series the school has labeled “Graland History According to Mr. Hickey.” I am devoting the rest of my days here to proofreading and tying up some loose ends in the archives. I have asked a colleague writing under the pseudonym Gil Blas to write some important Master Teacher updates in May and early June for me. Gil will be the amanuensis to my verbal rambles over coffee, or think of me as James Patterson and him as a Patterson collaborator.
Here’s Victor as his best:
“Twas the day of the test, when all through the room
Not a pencil was stirring, not even a plume.
The books were placed on the floor with great care
And no one dared peal, not even to stare.
Each student was snuggled in his cozy wood chair
While visions of D’s danced in the air.
Mr. Bissell’s white chalk, with never a rest
Had just settled in for a long grammar test.
When throughout the room there arose such a clatter,
I rose from the desk to see what was the matter.
And from my wandering eyes should appear
But a sight that was sure to fill us with fear--
Dear Bissell was knocking his pipe in the trash;
The blows were so quick, they came like a flash.
I would never get through this test in one piece
(On top of it all I was starting to wheeze).
This teacher of mine, so lively and quick,
Can make me turn green with a flick of his Bic!
More rapid than lightning his checkmarks they came.
He puffed and he called out our errors by name.
“No commas? No hyphens? No colons? No clauses?
Proofread, you wretches, and remember the law sez,
A gerund is a verbal noun, a verbal noun, a verbal noun…”
I spoke not a word but went straight to my work
And filled all my paper and turned with a jerk
To look at the clock at the top of the wall--
The period has ended; now dash away all!
His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry!
(Here comes the part that is really quite scary)
The glint in his eye and the twist of his head
Soon gave me to know how I had much to still dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
X’d my paper and turned with a smirk,
And laying his Cum Laude key aside of his nose,
He dashed from the room which I simply froze.
And I heard him exclaim, as he walked out of sight
“Admit it, you Gertrudes, my tests always delight!”