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Teacher Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The School-Ma'am by Robert J. C. Stead
  2. The Teacher's "If" by R.J. Gale
  3. To the Teachers of America by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  4. The Jolly Old Pedagogue by George Arnold

  1. 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 they 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.

  2. The Teacher's "If"

    by R.J. Gale

    If you can take your dreams into the classroom,
    And always make them part of each day's work—
    If you can face the countless petty problems
    Nor turn from them nor ever try to shirk—
    If you can live so that the child you work with
    Deep in his heart knows you to be a man—
    If you can take "I can't" from out his language
    And put in place a vigorous "I can"—

    If you can take Love with you to the classroom,
    And yet on Firmness never shut the door—
    If you can teach a child the love of Nature
    So that he helps himself to all her store—
    If you can teach him life is what we make it,
    That he himself can be his only bar—
    If you can tell him something of the heavens,
    Or something of the wonder of a star—

    If you, with simple bits of truth and honor,
    His better self occasionally reach—
    And yet not overdo nor have him dub you
    As one who is inclined to ever preach—
    If you impart to him a bit of liking
    For all the wondrous things we find in print—
    Yet have him understand that to be happy,
    Play, exercise, fresh air he must not stint—

    If you can give of all the best that's in you,
    And in the giving always happy be—
    If you can find the good that's hidden somewhere
    Deep in the heart of every child you se—
    If you can do these things and all the others
    That teachers everywhere do every day—
    You're in the work that you were surely meant for;
    Take hold of it! Know it's your place and stay!

  3. To the Teachers of America

    by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

    Teachers of teachers! Yours the task,
    Noblest that noble minds can ask,
    High up Aonia's murmurous mount,
    To watch, to guard the sacred fount
    That feeds the streams below;
    To guide the hurrying flood that fills
    A thousand silvery rippling rills
    In ever-widening flow.
    ...

    Rich is the harvest from the fields
    That bounteous Nature kindly yields,
    But fairer growths enrich the soil
    Ploughed deep by thought's unwearied toil
    In Learning's broad domain.
    And where the leaves, the flowers, the fruits,
    Without your watering at the roots,
    To fill each branching vein?

    Welcome! the Author's firmest friends,
    Your voice the surest Godspeed lends.
    Of you the growing mind demands
    The patient care, the guiding hands,
    Through all the mists of morn.
    And knowing well the future's need,
    Your prescient wisdom sows the seed
    To flower in years unborn.

  4. The Jolly Old Pedagogue

    George Arnold

    'T was a jolly old pedagogue, long ago,
    Tall, and slender, and sallow, and dry;
    His form was bent, and his gait was slow,
    And his long, thin hair was white as snow,
    But a wonderful twinkle shone in his eye:
    And he sang every night as he went to bed,
    "Let us be happy down here below;
    The living should live, though the dead be dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He taught the scholars the Rule of Three,
    Reading, and writing, and history too;
    He took the little ones on his knee,
    For a kind old heart in his breast had he,
    And the wants of the littlest child he knew.
    "Learn while you're young," he often said,
    "There is much to enjoy down here below;
    Life for the living, and rest for the dead!"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    With the stupidest boys, he was kind and cool,
    Speaking only in gentlest tones;
    The rod was scarcely known in his school—
    Whipping to him was a barbarous rule,
    And too hard work for his poor old bones;
    Besides it was painful, he sometimes said:
    "We should make life pleasant down here below—
    The living need charity more than the dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He lived in the house by the hawthorn lane,
    With roses and woodbine over the door;
    His rooms were quiet, and neat, and plain,
    But a spirit of comfort there held reign,
    And made him forget he was old and poor.
    "I need so little," he often said;
    "And my friends and relatives here below
    Won't litigate over me when I am dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    But the pleasantest times he had of all,
    Were the sociable hours he used to pass,
    With his chair tipped back to a neighbor's wall,
    Making an unceremonious call, Over a pipe and a friendly glass:
    This was the finest pleasure, he said,
    Of the many he tasted here below:
    "Who has no cronies had better be dead,"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    The jolly old pedagogue's wrinkled face
    Melted all over in sunshiny smiles;
    He stirred his glass with an old-school grace,
    Chuckled, and sipped, and prattled apace,
    Till the house grew merry from cellar to tiles.
    "I'm a pretty old man," he gently said,
    "I've lingered a long time here below;
    But my heart is fresh, if my youth is fled!"
    Said the jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He smoked his pipe in the balmy air
    Every night, when the sun went down;
    And the soft wind played in his silvery hair,
    Leaving its tenderest kisses there,
    On the jolly old pedagogue's jolly old crown;
    And feeling the kisses, he smiled, and said:
    " 'T is it glorious world down here below;
    Why wait for happiness till we are dead?"
    Said this jolly old pedagogue, long ago.

    He sat at his door one midsummer night,
    After the sun had sunk in the west,
    And the lingering beams of golden light
    Made his kindly old face look warm and bright,
    While the odorous night winds whispered, "Rest!"
    Gently, gently, he bowed his head;
    There were angels waiting for him, I know;
    He was sure of his happiness, living or dead,
    This jolly old pedagogue, long ago!

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