Transcript of Poetry Presentation: On the Value of Fantasies
A poem by Elizabeth Brewster "On the Value of Fantasies" Making Connections This poem relates to a friend of mine from my old school. My friend always had the biggest and wildest dreams and ambitions, and she was constantly coming up with new ideas. Some dreams were that she wanted to be the Prime Minister of Canada, or be the richest person in the world. She was never afraid of failing. My friend’s mom, however, was never supportive of her wild imagination. She always told her that she was unrealistic and that she was just setting herself up to fail, but she didn’t care. My friend’s mom and dad got a divorce when she was young and her mom had never had any luck with anything since the split. She was always in between jobs and men. I remember my friend coming to school and telling me that her mom and her boyfriend broke up last night or that she got a new job…again. Because her mom struggled, she was always in a bad mood, my friend never let her mom’s negativity go to her head or affect her. This poem relates to my friend because she would have these crazy fantasies, but there was always her mom in the background shooting down her ideas. In the poem the students have these crazy fantasies also and their teacher is the one shooting them down. The subject matter of the poem centers on the persona’s misfortune regarding romantic relationships and other minor topics, and her somewhat fickle attitude about the latter; it also centers on a pessimistic teacher’s belief that she introduces to her naïve female students – in other words, the poem revolves around fantasies and their typical futility. The poem lacks figurative language and resembles an intuitive and questioning stream of consciousness, specifically that of the writer’s. The tone, like the author’s predilection, is ambiguously optimistic, turning slightly pessimistic at the end. The mood follows the same path, as the reader may be inclined to feel empathy to the students and the writer in the later stanzas, the latter turning into solemnity at the last three lines. About the Author Tastefully associated music Page 15 of the handout Connecting the poem to another text In a way I think that our poem On the Value of Fantasies by Elizabeth Brewster relates to the play, Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. Juliet has a dream of being with Romeo and they want to be together, but their parents are against the idea due to the feud between the families. In the end of the play, when Romeo and Juliet die together, their parents finally realize that they are in love and all they want is to be together and finally their parents agree to be okay with it. In the poem you have the students with wild dreams and the teacher who is against them, but in the end the teacher says, “I might as well believe in heaven, too…” A Brief Discussion on the Poem Elizabeth Brewster, 1922 - Elizabeth Brewster was born in New Brunswick, where she completed most of her education and won numerous scholarships which she used to attend several colleges in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Since then, she has lived in almost every province and has published a series of poetry anthologies, novels, short stories and even autobiographies; she has also founded a literature magazine called "The Fiddlehead" in 1945. Her career mainly consisted of working as a librarian and later as a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 2001, Brewster was awarded with the Order of Canada. Thanks for watching! Please feel free to ask us any questions! The teacher on the morning radio programFull transcript
disapproves because her girl students
have such unrealistic fantasies.
They all think they will go to college,
marry a lawyer or professor,
have two kids and two cars,
and live happily ever after.
And she gets them to play a game
in which Linda becomes a widow at fifty,
Paulette is deserted at thirty-five
and has to bring up four kids
on a steno's salary, and poor Jennifer
never marries at all.
How will they cope? Of course, it's a matter of
one fantasy against the other
and sometimes it's fun
to imagine oneself bearing up against adversity.
Myself, though, I agree with the kids
that it's rather a dumb game.
It's true, life is full of these dirty tricks,
but being prepared for the worst may make it happen.
(More might be said
for fantasizing about space travel
or maybe being a mermaid). I still hope (two months before my fifty-third birthday)
that I may meet that handsome stranger
all the fortunetellers have told me about;
that sometime my lottery ticket
will win a tax-free fortune,
and that my poems become household words
and make the next edition of Columbo's Quotations.
I might as well believe in Heaven, too,
for all the good it will do me to admit
statistics are against it. A teacher paints a picture, through her own words, in the mind of a naive student of the unsavoury future she may face; the image, however, has been tinged with a growing inkling of optimism.