John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887


By darkened pagans reared for devils, plants, or stars, thou lived and flourished; seeming then so great thou ne’er couldst larger grow, nor seek For higher place. Thou wert an infant then. In this golden age; this age of bibles,

Thou hast gained thine utmost growth, surpassing every bound. Blasphemy is ripe, and thou old schoolhouse, thou hast heard her loudest voice unmoved. (O daring schoolhouse!)

And what is yet to come of thy strange story? What drizzling mists, what tempests of talking What whirlwinds clear of [empty] drifting chaff and ashes may lift thy crinkled roof; what burning thought, Flashing from heart to heart like summer lightning, may yet expand thee ere the dry and wet rots Grind thy old logs to powder. The doom of, “Dust to dust” surely awaits thee as well as spired cathedral, scholar or teacher.

Like empty birds nest soon to mother mould Thou’lt turn, perchance to sift and drift in vapor, Far and wide, to take new forms of beauty, O’er hill and dale mountain and grassy plain Living again in tree, or flower, or bird, In cold, or torrid clime. Or, [dying] fixed in crystal Rock, or sooty coal, deepburied, lonely,

wanting to feed some homely fire or forge, Not be lighter for yet a thousand Thousand years.

Thus flowing, dancing, swirling, free, or frozen, adown the ages thou wilt go with nature; Passing from form to form in endless cycle. Through all thy course may every journey please thee, may every wind that blows deal kindly by thee. Good luck old schoolhouse, Fare thee well. God speed thee.

Date Occurred

1856; 1860

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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