They Ask Me Why I Teach

A friend emailed this poem to me and I thought I’d share. It’s dated but the message resonates with me. It is a privilege being able to spend my days with young minds who challenge my thinking and lighten my mood (most of the time).

They Ask Me Why I Teach

They ask me why I teach,

And I reply,

Where could I find more splendid company?

There sits a statesman,

Strong, unbiased, wise,

Another later Webster,

Silver-tongued,

And there a doctor

Whose quick, steady hand

Can mend a bone,

Or stem the lifeblood’s flow.

A builder sits beside him-

Upward rise

The arches of a church he builds, wherein

That minister will speak the word of God,

And lead a stumbling soul to toach the Christ.

And all about

A lesser gathering

Of farmer, merchants, teachers,

Laborers, men

Who work and vote and build

And plan and pray

Into a great tomorrow

And I say,

“I may not see the church,

Or hear the word,

Or eat the food their hands will grow.”

And yet- I may.

And later I may say,

“I knew the lad,

And he was strong,

Or weak, or kind, or proud,

Or bold, or gay.

I knew him once,

But then he was a boy.”

They ask me why I teach, and I reply,

“Where could I find more splendid company?”

*They Ask Me Why I Teach,” by Glennice L. Harmon, in NEA Journal 37, no. 1 (September 1948): 375

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