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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

For Emily and For Doug

Updated: Mar 17

Last week, I received news that a dear friend, teacher, and mentor passed from this life. DGB was my Composition Teacher and AP teacher at Cedar High school. He introduced me to Emily, Chopin, Tennyson, Shakespeare and so many others. He gave life to words for me.




As Department Chair in the English Department at CHS, he breathed life into books. Under his tutelage so many of my favorite teachers gleaned a little bit of DGB. Weaver (my mother), Ronnow, and Jordan each passed a little bit of DGB onto their students, including me.


In my junior year, I found myself in DGB's classroom. He began by reading Emily. I can still hear his voice in my head. I was scared that first day, and the next, and the next. To say Doug was pompous, would be an understatement. His students either loved him, or they hated him. I loved him.


I respected that he loved what he did, and it showed. I remember writing an essay on King Lear from the point of view of Goneril. I got off late from work the night before the big in class essay exam (I waited tables at the local pizza joint). That Night , I reread the whole play into the wee hours of the morning. It paid off. I aced the essay. But I wasn't as proud of the the grade I received on that essay as I was the words he wrote me. To this day, I have never been more proud of a piece of writing.


Among other poems of Emily, DGB shared with his students, he had us memorize. Emily's "Success is Counted Sweetes"


Success is counted sweetest,

By those who ne’er succeed.

To comprehend a nectar

Requires sorest need.


Not one of all the purpose Host

Who took the Flag today

Can tell the definition

So clear of Victory


As he defeated – dying – 

On whose forbidden ear

The distant strains of triumph

Burst agonized and clear!


I still know this poem by heart. And its meaning has changed for me over time. I have come to respect and admire DGB over the years and my love of Emily's poems has grown likewise.


On Thursday, we will say good bye to DGB. Two former colleagues of Doug's will speak at his funeral (Huck Shirley (I did my student teaching with him) and Janet Weaver. His son Josh and his family will lead the processional, his nieces and nephews and loved ones will come to share in his passing. I will tuck myself away in a corner and remember all that DGB gave to me personally and to so many other students who passed through his door. DGB was a master at what he did. His methods although unconventional produced results. I loved this teacher of mine.


And so I say goodbye to my dear teacher, Mr. Bonzo with a poem from Emily


 

 

 

If you were coming in the Fall,

I'd brush the Summer by

With half a smile,

and half a spurn,

As Housewives do, a Fly.


If I could see you in a year,

I'd wind the months in balls---

And put them each in separate Drawers,

For fear the numbers fuse---


If only Centuries, delayed,

I'd count them on my Hand,

Subtracting, til my fingers dropped

Into Van Dieman's Land

,

If certain, when this life was out---

That yours and mine, should be

I'd toss it yonder, like a Rind,

And take Eternity---


But, now, uncertain of the length

Of this, that is between,

It goads me, like the Goblin Bee---

That will not state--- its sting.



This month I will start poetry with my students at the high school across town from where I once sat in DGB's room. I will share with them Emily in honor of my dear friend, Mr. Bonzo!





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