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The School-Ma'am

by Robert J. C. Stead

No hope of worldly gain is hers,
A yokel's wages for her hire,
And every throb of self's desire
Resigned to childish worshippers.

A tiny school her citadel,
A fenceless acre her domain,
Her life a sacrifice; her gain
The gain of those she serves so well.

Though little more than child herself,
A mother she to many sons;
In every vein the child-love runs
And fondly floods each little elf.

Though hampered by the formal sense
Of laws that check her usefulness
And boards of rustic truthfulness
And kindly-meant incompetence,

She earns a price thej cannot pay,
Obeys a law they did not make,
Enduring for their children's sake
The arrogance of human clay.

Oh, hide your littleness in shame
Who think ye pay for all she gives;
Within her sacred circle lives
The light of an eternal flame,

And growing down your country's page.
The beauty of her sacrifice
Shall glow again in other eyes,
And multiply from age to age.

The mothers of the race to be
Shall live her tenderness anew,
And her devotion shall imbue
The sons who keep our country free.

She gains no flagrant, pompous prize,
But men who move the world's affairs
Shall snatch a moment from their cares
To think of her with moistened eyes.

The conquerors of hostile lands,
The hearts the nation's burdens bear,
To-morrow's lords of earth and air,
To-day are moulded in her hands.

The lightest trifle from her lips
May charge some soul with fertile seed
That in the hour of direst need
Shall save your nation from eclipse.

The kings of action, speech, and brain,
The men your sons shall mark and raise
To shape the nation's destinies,
Shall earn her salary again.

I count the paltry dollars spent
Pay richer dividends than gold
When those who such position hold
Exert it for earth's betterment.