Featured Poem: An Old Man’s Thoughts of School by Walt Whitman

A fitting Featured Poem for the beginning of a new school year, we’re starting this week afresh with Walt Whitman’s  An Old Man’s Thoughts of School.

September has arrived and with it the age-old patterns of thought – school days and fresh starts, new pencils freshly sharpened and copy books to be backed. While our minds wander back we thought a word from Walt Whitman was appropriate.

An Old Man’s Thoughts 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?
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


Be part of the story…

If you’ve got that back to school nostalgia and want to try something new, why not try a Shared Reading group? All our groups are free to attend and open to everyone – find a group near you on our website.

Can’t find a group in your local community? Could you help us bring Shared Reading to your area? Find out more about volunteering with The Reader.

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