As tomorrow, January 20, is the inauguration of our next President here in the United States (you may have heard a little bit about that, even if you’re not in the US), I searched the online version of Leaves of Grass for the word “inauguration.” I came across this verse which Whitman wrote to commemorate the inauguration of a public school. It’s an apt sentiment for education professionals in the United States and all over the world.
A couple of notes first: I do own a beautiful hardcover leatherbound version of Leaves of Grass as evidenced in the photo, purchased from Schuler Books, my favorite independent bookstore. For expediency’s sake I search online if I want to showcase a relevant verse based on current events. Thanks, Project Gutenberg.
Also, this and all Monday Morning Whitman posts fall into the Public Domain category, which is my focus for the next few weeks.
And now, without further chitchat:
An Old Man’s Thought of School [For the Inauguration of a Public School, Camden, New Jersey, 1874] 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? 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.