Howard Nemerov

(29 February 1920 – 5 July 1991 / New York City, New York)

September, The First Day Of School


I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph's dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare's Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler's Law,
As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.


Anonymous submission.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
1 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read poems about / on: school, child, children, dream, hope, september, father, together, alone, life, brother, teacher, star

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (September, The First Day Of School by Howard Nemerov )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. O men, worship Kali, gajanan mishra
  2. pantoum: landing, 1976, Evie Shockley
  3. To Voice Anew so Listen, michael walkerjohn
  4. On New Year's Eve, Evie Shockley
  5. Lifeline, Evie Shockley
  6. Her Tin Skin, Evie Shockley
  7. From The Lost Letters of Frederick Dougl.., Evie Shockley
  8. Seeking Sanity, michael walkerjohn
  9. — Shall Become As —, Evie Shockley
  10. I am indeed, gajanan mishra

Poem of the Day

poet William Butler Yeats

WINE comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

poet Anna Akhmatova

 

Member Poem

poet Sumita Datta

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
  4. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  5. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  6. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  7. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  8. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  9. If, Rudyard Kipling
  10. A Drinking Song, William Butler Yeats

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]