Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No One Knows

Another school year is almost over. As always, the question, what did we learn, is lost on the wind. Here is a poem by the Czech poet Miroslav Holub, which I sometimes use with my own (slightly older) students.
1971 (photographer unknown)
Napoleon

Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte born,
asks teacher.

A thousand years ago, the children say.
A hundred years ago, the children say.
Last year, the children say.
No one knows.

Children, what did
Napoleon Bonaparte do,
asks teacher.

Won a war, the children say.
Lost a war, the children say.
No one knows.

Our butcher had a dog
called Napoleon, 
says František.
The butcher used to beat him and the dog died
of hunger
a year ago.

And all the children are now sorry
for Napoleon.

(tr. Ian and Jamila Milner)
Warsaw elementary school 1956/57 (Photo:Władysław Sławny)

1 comment:

  1. Sweet post.

    All the children know the truth.

    ReplyDelete