Smile, You Are in Greenpoint

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