Deke’s Poem from 11.22.63: We Did Not Ask for This Room or This Music

atkins bookshelf quotationsThe scene: the dimly-lit interior of a high school gym decorated for a formal dinner to honor the former librarian of Jodie High School, Sadie Dunhill (now 80 years old), who is being honored as “Texas Woman of the Year.” The room is packed with former students and colleagues. 

Former student: “Ms. Sadie, I’d just like to say that all of us here in this room… we’re all here because you have touched our lives in some special way, and, for all of us, I would just like to say thank you.”

Sadie Dunhill: “Well, we never know which lives we influence or when or why, but I am so very grateful to be part of yours. You older Jodie [High School] grads who are here tonight, you might remember [beloved principal] Deke Simmons. And some of you may recall that little poem that he loved, that he kept copies on his desk so that he could hand them out to troublesome students or students that were troubled. Well, this was the poem:

We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in. 
Therefore, because the dark surrounds us,
Let us turn our faces toward the light. 
Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty. 
We have been given pain to be astounded by joy. 
We have been given life to deny death. 
We did not ask for this room or this music. 
But because we are here, let us dance.”

The scene and poem appears in the last episode (of an 8-part mini-series) of 11.22.63, Hulu’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about an English teacher who travels back in time to the 1960s to prevent Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John F. Kennedy. The screenplay was written by Bridget Carpenter, one of the show’s developers (King and J.J. Abrams were the executive producers), and her team of writers. The poem did not originally appear in the novel, but Carpenter felt that the poem, that echoed the themes of the novel was a, ahem… poetic way to wrap up the series. When King reviewed the final script, he made minor edits to the poem.

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