Today we are going to look at the lines of an English poem and discuss ‘perfection.’ The lines of this poem come from the poet Ron Padgett. Mr. Padgett is a modern American poet born in the state of Oklahoma in 1942. He has been publishing volumes of poetry since the 1960′s and has published works as recently as 2011. I find his poetry both fun and thoughtful. Today I would like to share a few lines of a famous poem of Mr. Padgett’s entitled “How to be perfect.” The topic of perfection seems relevant as so many language learners worry about speaking “perfectly.” If after reading a few lines of this poem you are interested in reading more you can find this entire poem in the book entitled How to be perfect which was published in 2007. Before looking at some of the lines from this poem about how to be perfect, let me first define the word perfect.
Perfect can be both an adjective and a verb. The pronunciation of the adjective and verb forms of this word are different. You should be able to click on each of the words below and be connected to a link where you can hear the pronunciation of each.
Perfect (adjective): having all the necessary elements or characteristics; to be as good as it is possible to be.
Perfect (verb): to make something completely free from faults or defects as possible.
Many of us strive to be perfect in different aspects of our lives, not just in our language learning. In his poem “How to be perfect” Mr. Padgett gives advice on how a person can be more perfect in general. Some of this advice is practical while other bits of advice are just funny. Here are some lines from this poem:
Lines from “How to be perfect” by Ron Padgett.
“Eat an orange every morning.
Be friendly. It will help make you happy.
Hope for everything. Expect nothing.
Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.
Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.
Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don’t
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
Wear comfortable shoes.
Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.
Plan your day so you never have to rush.”
What do you think? Will doing any of these things make you a more perfect person? What does it mean to be a “perfect person” to you? Do you think it is possible to be perfect? One thing for language learners to remember is that it is important to not worry too much about speaking perfectly in a new language. Learning to speak a new language means making mistakes. In my opinion a perfect language learner is not one who speaks perfectly all the time, but one who learns from his/her mistakes.