The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Graduation speech

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dmsnyder's picture

Graduation speech

A friend sent me this poem. Enjoy!

Graduation Speech

by Charles W. Pratt

Like much that matters, baking bread is easy
Enough, with good ingredients, a simple recipe: 
To water, sweetener, salt and yeast
Add flower, and mix. Oh, yes, there's Mystery,
But who demands to understand
When the dough is answering the hand
Under a morning window facing east?
Do they teach this at the University?

Cover the dough—left in the dark alone
It knows to take the next step on its own.
And when it's risen with the sun
Towards noon an hour or two, punch it back down,
Shape it into loaves, and wait
Again while it again grows great—
But not too great: just peers above the pan.
Then, as the good book says, "Bake until done."

The Zen of loafing? Eat a metaphor?
Now's the time to try if bread is more
Than bread alone. Taste. Devour.
Firmly yielding? Moist and crunchy? Or
Evidence scattered on the plate
Of a loaf the knife disintegrates?
You've made it, anyhow. The day is yours—
Yours and the sun's, now at its tallest hour.

"Graduation Speech" by Charles W. Pratt, from From The Box Marked Some Are Missing: New and Selected Poems. © Hobblebush Books, 2010. Reprinted with permission.


IBringThePain's picture

My high-school English teacher just sent me this because she knew about my baking. I think it's beautiful, but a little lacking in passion. Personally, when I take loaves out of the oven, I feel like God at the creation of the universe. The speaker here begins to understand that but doesn't go far enough in expressing it, IMHO.

MangoChutney's picture

Did the original author actually mis-spell "flour" as "flower"?

dmsnyder's picture

I have no idea. I copied and pasted the poem as I received it.


mkelly27's picture

 I always feel like "Merlin the Magician" when I pull the loaves from the oven.  Every time, bar none.  It what keeps me baking all the time.  It's like magic!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

When I pull loaves out of the oven, I feel like some sort of musician, mostly a jazz musician. My lack of a definitive style and eccentricity in direction doesn't keep me out of the kitchen. On the contrary, since the formulas and results are always changing, my knowledge and interest in baking bread keeps getting deeper and stronger. Does that make any sense to you?

dmsnyder's picture