D. H. Lawrence invited much controversy in his lifetime, especially in his later life, and he is famous for his novels including Lady Chatterley's Lover and Sons and Lovers. This poem, The Best of School, resonates to a relatively stress-free time of life and is a reminder that some of the simplest pleasures in life are uncomplicated and fulfilling.
The narrator is a school teacher and he recognizes the potential of his students and understands his own part in developing their minds as he sits on the "shores of the class." The narrator knows that inspiration is like the ocean and it ebbs and flows and he is the constant when each boy looks up "to ponder very quietly." The school teacher allows each boy to search for his own interpretation of the day's assignment and feels justified as each child "found what he wanted, having got what was to be had." He is proud that the boys are able to learn from him.
The poem is a testament to all teachers who allow students to strive towards their own understanding under the guidance of a good teacher. The teacher refers to one morning in particular when the boys are especially astute with "Each one darting away with his Discovery." The boys do not even realize the enormous contribution of their teacher as they "cling and cleave" and he is pleased that this means that he can share in their successes as "their thrills are mine."
[With poetry it is better to paraphrase by sentence or grammatical unit, rather than by line.]
The shades in the classroom are drawn so that the boys are working in the colorless shade.
Occasionally, the wind blows the shades, creating colorful slants of light across the walls.
I feel like their source of strength as I watch the boys work. Every now and then one will look at me and then go back to work.
Sometimes, when they raise their heads, I can tell that they finally understood something and are proud of themselves for it.
This is the best part of the day, the part when I can tell that the light is finally coming to them. I am making a difference!
They are like little birds; the understanding seems to make them work that much harder and fly that much higher.
Each time they understand something new, the fly a little higher. It is kind of like creating a new tree with them growing and sprouting new leaves while I form the solid trunk and foundation.