My Sometime-Career-as-Comedian Recalled

Grade 12. Class reading Keats’ first stanza of “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, which describes men or gods chasing nymphs:
“what maidens loath?/ What mad pursuit?”

I asked the young woman student-teacher “Why are the maidens loath?” –which broke up the class and left her flabbergasted. She did not know what to say. At the back of the class, our regular teacher, who was quite the wit and lover of words, seemed to enjoy all of this, as I recall.

Yes, I was an occasional class clown-entertainer ( I used to do imitations when reading aloud in English–e.g., Brando, Peter Lorre), though there was more earnestness in my dumb question above than one might suppose. And so why were those maidens so loath anyway?

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