Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

On Old Man's Thought Of School


AN old man's thought of School;
An old man, gathering youthful memories and blooms, that youth itself
cannot.

Now only do I know you!
O fair auroral skies! O morning dew upon the grass!

And these I see--these sparkling eyes,
These stores of mystic meaning--these young lives,
Building, equipping, like a fleet of ships--immortal ships!
Soon to sail out over the measureless seas,
On the Soul's voyage.

Only a lot of boys and girls? 10
Only the tiresome spelling, writing, ciphering classes?
Only a Public School?

Ah more--infinitely more;
(As George Fox rais'd his warning cry, "Is it this pile of brick and
mortar--these dead floors, windows, rails--you call the church?
Why this is not the church at all--the Church is living, ever living
Souls.")

And you, America,
Cast you the real reckoning for your present?
The lights and shadows of your future--good or evil?
To girlhood, boyhood look--the Teacher and the School.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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