"In School Days" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Source of witness transcribed: The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer (Wheeling, West Virginia)
Date of witness transcribed: 3 January 1870
Notes about this poem: "In School Days" was printed in at least 214 newspapers during the nineteenth century. It can be found using ID 522611 in this table of most widely-reprinted poems.
In School Days
- Still sits the school house by the road,
- A ragged beggar sunning;
- Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry vines are running.
- Within, the master’s desk is seen,
- Deep scarred by raps official;
- The warping floor, the battered seats,
The jack-knife’s cared initial;
- The charcoal frescoes on its wall;
- Its door’s worn sill, betraying
- The feet that, creeping slow to school
Went storming out to playing!
- Long years ago a setting sun
- Shone over it at setting;
- Lit up its western window-panes,
And low caves’ icy fretting.
- It touched the tangled golden curls,
- And brown eyes full of grieving,
- Of one who still her steps delayed
When all the school were leaving.
- For near her stood the little boy
- Her childish favor singled,
- His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.
- Pushing with restless feet the snow
- To right and left he lingered:—
- As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.
- He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
- The soft hand’s light caressing,
- And heard the tremble of her voice,
As if a fault confessing.
- “I’m sorry that I spelt the word;
- I hate to go above you,
- Because,”—the brown eyes lower fell,—
“Because, you see, I love you.”
- Still memory to a gray haired man
- That sweet child-face is showing,
- Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
Have forty years been growing!
- He lives to learn, in life’s hard school,
- How few who pass above him
- Lament their triumph and his loss,
- Like her,—because they love him.