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If just one student learns the beauty of aesthetics
then that’s fine, I need only one.
Or if one student learns the wonders of poetics
then he’s mine, and my work here will be done.
And if one student values structure,
learns that words can be valuable and fun,
show me twenty students who despise the poems they have to memorize.
All right — I need only one.

And if one student learns that books can be ecstatic, what the heck,
I don’t need romance.
If I’ve wasted my life being firm and autocratic,
I’m a speck in an orbiting expanse.
What I did was always well intentioned,
and what’s done, folks, is ultimately done.
Give me eighty students who deplore the fact that I demanded more.
Screw ‘em! I need only…

One student who rarely watches television.
One student who understands the value of precision.
Are there limits to my teaching?
Was I always overreaching?
Prob’ly I was. And so what if I was?

I’ve been told that my life is ending very shortly —
that’s alright, I do not like scenes.
Since I’m not someone’s wife, and I don’t have any children
I won’t fight, or be hooked up to machines.

But for that special kid who liked me, he who laughed at an inauspicious pun.
Let him fondly ponder who I was,
and represent me well because
there’ll be only one.
There’ll be only one.

There’ll be only one.
There’ll be only one,
only one.
Da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da,
Da-da-da, da-da

So I’ll live with the fact that I’m prickly and derisive,
that I will, and not make amends.
I was born without tact, I was born to be decisive,
and I still don’t have very many friends.
But I taught what I knew needed teaching.
If they fought me, they learned who held the gun.
So who’s students always did the best on every statewide essay test?
Count ‘em!
I’m the only one.
I’m the only one.


from Elegies: A Song Cycle (Studio Cast Recording), released September 11, 2016



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