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Ethics | Poem

Linda Pastan
This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ethics.
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In ethics class so many years ago

our teacher asked this question every fall:

If there were a fire in a museum

which would you save, a Rembrandt painting

or an old woman who hadn't many

years left anyhow? Restless on hard chairs

caring little for pictures or old age

we'd opt one year for life, the next for art

and always half-heartedly. Sometimes

the woman borrowed my grandmother's face

leaving her usual kitchen to wander

some drafty, half imagined museum.

One year, feeling clever, I replied

why not let the woman decide herself?

Linda, the teacher would report, eschews

the burdens of responsibility.

This fall in a real museum I stand

before a real Rembrandt, old woman,

or nearly so, myself. The colors

within this frame are darker than autumn,

darker even than winter—the browns of earth,

though earth's most radiant elements burn

through the canvas...

(read more)

This section contains 165 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ethics Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Ethics from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.