A verbal noun.
How can that
Be right?
To do and to be;
Oh dearie me.
Do be do be do;
So sang Sinatra.
But is it fitting,
Is it right?
Are they strangers
In the night,
Weird fusion
Of Plotinus
And Sartre?

One might say
What ails thee,
Can you not see it?
Are you dazzled
By the light?
This transcendence
All should hail,
For this is it:
The Holy Grail.

I spent nine years teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a language school in London, so I am quite familiar with the term Gerund.  Before I started teaching, however, I probably wouldn’t have been familiar with it.  One of the problems I had, when I started work at the language school, was that I was woefully ignorant of grammatical terms and functions in general, as – unlike most European countries – grammar was not taught in British schools at the time.  I had to make up for my ignorance by trying to learn, pretty quickly, as much grammar as I could, just in order to catch up, and be on a level playing field with most of my foreign students.  It took quite a while before I started to feel more confident in teaching English Grammar, and I encountered difficult classroom situations on the way, when the ability to bluff came in useful.  I still vividly recall a tortuous session when I was grilled on the nature and function of the Subjunctive, by an aggressive, blonde-haired German student.

Some of my EFL memories came back to me when I was working on the above poem; but it is intended merely to poke a bit of playful fun at the potentially paradoxical nature of the Gerund.



Filed under Poetry

6 responses to “Gerund

  1. Another overlap? I was an ESOL teacher for 12 yrs before I retired!

  2. Yes, could be a synchronicity, couldn’t it. By the way – ref. Colin Wilson – I’m currently half-way through reading “Necessary Doubt”, which I found in the best second hand bookshop in the country – Bookcase in Carlisle. I do love Wilson’s early novels!

    • One of the biggest used- books shops in the UK is Barter Books in Alnwick. Yes, I like his earl novels. I think Ritual in the Dark holds up to other novels of the time quite well. E.g. Iris Murdoch’s. I’d recommend The Glass Cage too if you havent already read it. It features a serial murderer in the Lakes who leaves Blake quotes at the scene! Whatever is said about the man – he was versatile!

      • The Glass Cage is one of my favourites; it made me look at William Blake in a new light. By the way, there is a favourable review of Wilson’s Essays on Philosophers in the current issue of Philosophy Now magazine.

      • Yes. I think I read it a while ago, but I’ll check thanks! (Did I say before, I’m writing a book about Blake’s illustrations to Job and Buddhist thought – from the point of view of self-discovery?)

  3. Yes, sounds fascinating; I’ll have to follow developments!

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