The theme for this half term is wisdom and, in last Tuesday’s assembly, representatives from each form presented the words they had chosen to learn by heart, explaining the reasons for their particular choices. Edith (Year 7) chose Prospero’s words from The Tempest: ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on’ because 'it's a metaphor for life and it was one of my grandmother's and father's favourite passages.'
Freya (Year 9) recited Benjamin Jonson’s poem:
It is not growing like a tree
In bulk doth make Man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night—
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.
Freya chose this poem because ‘it’s good not to bind yourself to things and expect them to last forever and it’s much better to enjoy things while they are happening instead of being sad when they are over.’
Several girls chose quotes emphasising the value of listening and our Year 13 Sanskrit scholars, Radhika and Lucie spoke this verse from chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita:
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||
'You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.' Lucie explained, ‘The wisdom in this verse is very practical for our particular stage of life, reminding us of the importance of working selflessly without thinking about the rewards.’
I chose to learn the following quote from a letter that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to his daughter:
‘Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.’
It reminds me that every new day offers us so many glorious possibilities and the chance to start afresh if we can live ‘serenely’ and with a high spirit instead of dwelling on our mistakes or becoming overly consumed with anxiety. This is truly living in the present.