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A poem by Jared Barhite

Our Profession

Title:     Our Profession
Author: Jared Barhite [More Titles by Barhite]

There's an art in our profession,
Which cannot be wholly learned
From all books in our possession,
Though their leaves be deftly turned
Till the mind shall grasp the meaning
Of each truth they may contain,
Yet there remains a gleaning
Not a product of the brain.

One may know the truths of science
Till his mind may have full store,
Or may place some great reliance
On ancient and modern lore;
He may count the stars in heaven,
He may trace them in their course,
And from data that is given
He may prove creation's source;
He may use the best of diction
To portray his studied thought;
He may draw from truth and fiction
All the charm with which they're fraught;
He may be a friend of Nature
And may understand her laws;
He may prove embryo creature
Has within itself a "cause";
He may fathom all creation
And dwell among the stars,
Visit every land and nation
And return with honor's scars;
Yet he may lack a power,--
Occult to scientific truth--
Which is Heaven's richest dower
To the guides of ardent youth.

Though all these may give a polish
To the gem that lights the soul,
They are weak, useless, and foolish,
When they're taken for the whole
Of all the powers required
To entrance the youthful mind,
With a spirit so inspired
As to touch the eyes of blind
With a bright illumination
That shall prove itself to be
More than a corruscation
Of a short-lived ecstasy.

By intuition, children know
A heart that cares for them;
They recognize a friend or foe,
At instantaneous ken.
No mask can shield a fraud or fool,
E'en from a puerile mind;
It knows by rules not learned at school
The way true hearts to find.
An earnest love, unbounded, firm,--
A God-gift from our birth--
By far outweighs the noblest charm
Can be acquired on earth.

Who has not drunk deep at the well
Of childhood's innocence,
Or thinks that he should ever dwell
At such an eminence,
That he can never bend to raise
And cheer a longing heart,
Will waste his precious hours and days,
And finally depart
Without such fruitage or reward
As ever should be given
To him, who serves master or Lord,
And hopes for bliss in heaven.

Who sees no soul-buds here expand
To blossom by and by,
Hath fathomed not the great command
For which we live and die.
The State demands that every son
And daughter shall be free
From ignorance and vice which run
Toward crime and misery.
The future of our noble State
Dwells now in plastic form;
If she her past would emulate
And meet the coming storm
Of chaos, whose portentous wing
Seems hovering not afar,
In every school-room we should sing
Of banner and of star
That gave the land to Liberty,
And with a bold huzza
Proclaim that he who would be free
Must honor right and law.

Who serves his State and fellow-man
And plies his skill at best,
Assists to carry out the plan
To make all truly blest;
He may not sit in marble hall
Where legislators meet,
Nor may he rear fine towers tall,
Or dwell in a retreat
Where monks and nuns with solemn prayer
Pour out their orison;
The test of faith is filial care,
And duty nobly done.
Minds let us mould, men may we rear,
For God, for State, for man,
Using the right without a fear
To mar the heaven-born plan.

The test of great didactic skill
Is not to train the few
Whose active genius, tact, and will
Are always plain to view;
But he who takes an inert mind,
Housed in a sluggish frame,
And forms such man as God designed,
Deserves an honored name.

Like Sisyphus some ever roll
The same old round of things
Which dwarf the mind and starve the soul,
Until they long for wings
To fly from dull monotony,
Which carries in its train
That wreck of thought--Despondency--
Which preys on heart and brain.

The artist knows the colors best
That blend in harmony
With richest cloud-scenes, in the west,
That gild the sunset sky;
The minstrel knows what song to sing
To please the multitude;
His fingers deftly touch the strings
That yield response subdued
When weary soul would find relief
From sorrow's withering sigh,
Or when the heart is bowed with grief,
And tear-drops dew the eye;
But when the soul is full of joy,
How jubilant the strain
The tactful artist will employ
To please the heart and brain.

If those who toil in lowly spheres
Employ such artful ways
To charm the dull and listless ears
That such may sound their praise,
Why should the artist of the mind
Shrink from that noble aim
That seeks to elevate mankind,
And light a deathless flame!
Or why should he who shapes the lives
And destiny of man,
Be less exact than he who strives
From mercenary plan.

No instrument man ever made--
None ever can be found--
No matter when or where 'tis played,
Will yield so rich a sound
As that which falls from human tongue
When heart speaks unto heart,
Nor are its mysteries among
The hidden things of art;
A tyro on life's winding road
Reads understandingly
Each tone and word, each varied mode
The tongue and form portray.

Our heart's intents are from our looks
More plainly to be read,
Than thoughts expressed in printed books
Whose language oft seems dead,
Because it lacks a living form--
A voiceless, dull decree
That of itself has little charm
For youth's activity.

A potent charm of living light
Flows with resistless force,
Dispelling clouds of mental night
That meet its onward course,
When all the soul is centred in
The great and primal thought
That services which hearts would win,
With price can ne'er be bought.
Such service heaven alone repays
E'en though on earth 'tis done,
Its echoes last through endless days,
And dies but with the sun.
A mercenary soul must find
A more congenial field
Than that of training human mind
Wherein a soul's concealed,
If it would live out all the days
Allotted unto man,
And bask in all the genial rays
Revealed in God's great plan.

No lubrication of the nerves
Has ever yet been found,
For him who like a menial serves
Dull lesson's daily round;
But gnawing friction, stern and gaunt,
Tears flesh and brain away,
While ghosts nocturnal ever haunt
A soul with fell dismay,
Whose mercenary greed has led
Itself into a snare
That counts by scores its strangled dead,
Its hundreds, in despair.

He doubly lives who can forget
Himself and his own ease,
While toiling patiently to set
New gems in crowns he sees,
That may adorn some other head
Than that he calls his own,
And animate the germs wide spread
In seeds already sown.

* * * * *

To skim the surface of knowledge,
And seldom its root to reach,
Is a recipe one may offer
To direct "How Not To Teach."

[The end]
Jared Barhite's poem: Our Profession