Thy Sweet Love

University education is a relatively new and limited opportunity in Ethiopian society with punctuality a serious problem.  Professors found it impossible to convince students to appear for class on time.  Some teachers requested late arrivals to enter quietly and sit at the back of the room, others locked the door, all kinds of threats were issued but all were ignored.  For 50 years tardy scholars continued to knock on the door and interrupt the class.

My son, Jonathan, decided this practice must stop, so each day he warned his physics class at the University of Addis Ababa that after 14 days any student arriving past the appointed hour would be required to stand in front of the class and read aloud a Shakespearean sonnet selected by the professor.  Exactly two weeks later, a tardy scholar knocked on the door.

He was graciously invited to enter, and handed the famous Sonnet 29 which begins:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, 
And look upon myself, and curse my fate[.]

and ends

Haply I think on thee,and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day ascending, 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate; 
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings 
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Apparently a sea of smirking faces, washing over a hapless thespian, can drown a cultural proclivity for punctual indifference.  In any case, no student of physics was ever late to class again.

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