IN SCHOOL DAYS
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
All Still stands the schoolhouse by the road,
A ragged beggar sunning.
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry vines are running.
Reader 1 Within, the master's desk is seen,
Deep scarred by raps official,
The warping floor, the battered seats,
The jack-knife's carved initial,
All The charcoal frescoes on its wall,
Its door's worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
Went storming out to playing!
Reader 2 Long years ago a winter sun
Shone over it at setting,
Lit up its western windowpanes
And low eaves' icy fretting,
All 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.
Reader 3 For near her stood the little boy
Her childish favor singled,
His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.
All Pushing with restless feet the snow
To right and left, he lingered,
As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.
Reader 4 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.
All "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!"
Reader 5 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!
All 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.
Fresco – the art of painting on moist plaster
Fretting – lacy decoration cut from wood
Ragged beggar – the abandoned schoolhouse
Sumach – a type of wild tree