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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.

Walt Whitman

    Book 1 - Inscriptions

    Book II

    Book III

    Book IV - Children of Adam

    Book V - Calamus

    Book VI

    Book VII

    Book VIII

    Book IX

    Book X

    Book XI

    Book XII

    Book XIII

    Book XIV

    Book XV

    Book XVI

    Book XVII - Birds of Passage

    Book XVIII

    Book XIX - Sea-Drift

    Book XX - By the Roadside

    Book XXI - Drum Taps

    Book XXII - Memories of President Lincoln

    Book - XXIII

    Book XXIV - Autumn Rivulets

    Book XXV

    Book XXVI

    Book XXVII

    Book XXVIII

    Book XXIX

    Book XXX - Whispers of Heavenly Death

    Book XXXI

    Book XXXII - From Noon to Starry Night

    Book XXXIII - Songs of Parting

    Book XXXIV - Sands at Seventy

    Book XXXV - Good-bye My Fancy

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