SELECTED SHADOWS 7

He called out, ‘Put down your pencils Class One. Bring your work to me.’ He worked his way through the classes, coming to Kor-Sen’s halfway through.  The neatness and clarity of the boy’s script pleased him at first sight.  After commenting on each boy’s technical achievement in shaping the letters, Karenoran asked, ‘And who can tell me about this piece – what is it, what does it mean?’

There was a lot of shuffling and looking down and muttering. Kor-Sen looked at his classmates in surprise.   ‘It is a poem, Sir.  An old poem about the people of the desert.’

‘Go on, Kor-Sen.’

‘Well – the poet says that the people are like the stars of the desert sky, wandering over the empty sands just like the stars move across the empty night.  And he says that their lives are fierce and harsh like the desert sun; and they are brave and strong as the desert lion, and secret like the hidden springs, and the words are beautiful, Sir.’

Karenoran smiled.  ‘Is that right? You, Kan-Den, do you agree?’

‘Me, Sir? I – I didn’t know it was about people – I mean, it doesn’t say it is, does it?’

‘Kor-Sen?’

‘It’s a metaphor, Sir – it is really about the people, but it’s written to compare them to all these other things.  That’s a metaphor.’

‘So it is. Learn that, all the rest of you, and today will have been well spent.  Now take the two younger classes out into the yard to play, while I deal with Fourth and Fifth Classes.’

The song of the seasons

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