A Link to the Past: Susan Lima’s ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’

When I think back on my education, my teachers were an assortment of good, not-so-good, and a few oddballs. Today, I am going to tell you about Susan Lima, my ninth-grade English teacher, and a surprise connection to her later in my life.

I recall Mrs. Lima, as we all called her, standing in front of the class or sitting on one of the student’s desks as she recited “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was our first exposure to William Shakespeare, a good place to start on his body of work. During each day’s lesson, Mrs. Lima held her blue Yale University Press version open in her hand, but she rarely looked at the words.

Mrs. Lima knew most of the play by heart.

“How now my love! Why is your cheek so pale?” Lysander, who is in love with Hermia, asks.

I was only a freshman in high school, but I knew hers was a remarkable performance.

Decades later, my mother mailed me a box. Inside, I found clothing she bought for the kids and me at a tag sale, and then at the bottom, a slim blue volume of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the Yale Shakespeare version edited by Willard H. Durham. The book is a second printing, dated 1923.

The blue cloth was mottled with something white, perhaps from moisture. When I opened the book, I saw the name “Susan Lima” written in perfect cursive on the second page.

I marveled. How many times did Mrs. Lima hold this book as she spoke its words from memory? Now, it has a treasured spot on one of my bookshelves.

Puck says, “Now the hungry lion roars; And the wolf behowls the moon.”

My good luck, I am certain.