Sunday, May 02, 2010

From TC

As I mentioned, my daughter brought me some books abandoned for disposal from Teachers College, and one of them is a collection of 200 Poems for Teachers of Industrial Arts Education compiled and printed by William L. Hunter, Iowa State College, 1935. It is a rare thing. The pages were printed from typed pages, rather than typeset, and like some of the other books I have gotten from TC, it is likely to fall apart. I will be sharing poems from it time to time to see that they are preserved in the public domain. Above all, the book of poems is from a day before manual arts teachers became demoralized, and their place within schools became so poorly understood.

One caught my eye and had been noted as of interest by a small penciled check mark by an earlier reader. It was my father's favorite poem, and one that I had read in his memorial service at the time of his death in 1976. It is ironic that this book containing it would be delivered to me from Teachers College the night before the memorial service for my mother, and discovered in the book the night after opening my father's grave and placing the wooden box I made for my mother's ashes alongside the clay box I had made for my father's in 1976. The poem, goes like this:
"Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And common folk like you and me
Are builders for eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules.
And each must make 'ere life has flown,
A stumbling block or stepping stone."
--Author unknown
Many of the poems in this book concern the selfless dignity of labor, and many allude to the spiritual nature of work, as does the following by Walt Whitman.
Sacredness of work
The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere,
The preparatory jointing, squaring, sawing, mortising,
The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their places, laying them regular.
Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises, according as they were prepared, The blows of mallets and hammers--
Paeans and praises, to Him!

No comments:

Post a Comment