The poem Did I Miss Anything by Tom Wayman, a modernist poet is all about the frustration of a teacher who has frequently been asked by the absent students, “Did I Miss Anything”.
The tone of the poem is angry, sarcastic and humorous. Each stanza in the poem begins with Nothing and Everything. Both the words are complete in themselves and represent the tone of the poem.
The poet, who is a teacher gets quite angry when an absent student asks, “Did I Miss Anything?” In response, the poet explains which did he miss and what not in alternative sentences. The stanzas beginning with Nothing are sarcastic and humorous while those beginning with Everything expresses his anger.
The poet begins by saying, “Nothing” and adds that he has missed nothing as they (teacher and students) realized that he (the absentee) was not there and hence they were sitting quietly for two hours. with their hands on the desks. It is a kind of sarcastic answer.
In the next stanza, the teacher’s anger comes out. He tells the absentee that he taught the lessons which covered 40% of the term syllabus and also assigned the students a quiz which is worth 50% of the term paper’s marks.
The tone again shifts to sarcasm. According to the teacher, he (student) missed nothing as the course has no values or meaning. So he should remain absent as all the activities that take place in the class have no purpose for himself as well as for the absentee.
In the 4th stanza, the poet says that shortly after he began teaching an angel just appeared that told about the ways to attain wisdom for the life and also that this is the last class after which they will have to spread the good news to the world.
This stanza is a satire on the religious faiths like Christian and Jewish religious practices and beliefs. It was believed that angels descend from the sky to impart knowledge to the clergy who afterwards spread that message (good news) to the commoners.
The tone again reverts to sarcastic. the teacher asks the student how anything can happen in the class without him (student) being present there.
In the final stanza, the teacher says that the classroom is a world full of human experiences which were assembled for him (student) to grab, examine and understand. It was an opportunity which he has lost now.
Refer to this site for the poet’s introduction to his poem.