The best laid schemes of mice and men

My plans at work for a Friday team training fell apart and were canceled on me. As I reflected on it, I found myself thinking of a line “The best laid schemes of mice and men” and couldn’t come up with the rest, or if it was applicable. I decided to use my extended memory, otherwise known as Google, and search it. I found a poem called “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns.

The story is that Mr. Burns was plowing his field and turned over the dirt of a family of mice. He recognized that they had carefully burrowed and built this home to be safe for the winter, but he had disturbed it and ruined their entire plan. He later went and wrote a poem.

The stanza that I was recalling was this:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

So this was a bit overdramatic for my particular situation. Although it rings true often enough in life. Funny thing is, I don’t remember why I should know this poem. With some research, I know that this was a great inspiration for the book “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. That book I do remember reading in High School. I remember it because there was a generous helping of profanity within it. I remember well that my English teacher, Mrs. Charington, explained that we would read it out loud as a class, taking turns reading two paragraphs each as we went around the room. And if anyone was uncomfortable reading the profanity, simply pause and she would read those words out loud.

When it came my turn, I abridged my sentence, removing the offending word. I didn’t even think about it; my brain just does that as I read. I don’t mean to imply that I read a lot of cursing; but when I do, my brain tends to just remove the offending word or phrase as I pass by. It is a talent or a training or whatever-you-call-it that I quite like. Mrs. Charington didn’t like it. She stopped me, and made me read it correctly, pausing at the offending word so that she could read it aloud.

In a class attended by 99% Mormon kids, the teacher pronounced a lot of swear words during that book reading. Which she explained was her time of the year to say those words out loud and relieve her frustrations in life.

At any rate, I don’t remember why the poem was coming to my mind today. I honestly can’t recall when I might have studied it, or why it had any significance to my memory – except maybe connected to that senior year book reading?


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