To David, About His Education

By Howard Nemerov 1920–1991 Howard Nemerov
The world is full of mostly invisible things,
And there is no way but putting the mind’s eye,
Or its nose, in a book, to find them out,
Things like the square root of Everest
Or how many times Byron goes into Texas,
Or whether the law of the excluded middle
Applies west of the Rockies. For these
And the like reasons, you have to go to school
And study books and listen to what you are told,
And sometimes try to remember. Though I don’t know
What you will do with the mean annual rainfall
On Plato’s Republic, or the calorie content
Of the Diet of Worms, such things are said to be
Good for you, and you will have to learn them
In order to become one of the grown-ups
Who sees invisible things neither steadily nor whole,
But keeps gravely the grand confusion of the world
Under his hat, which is where it belongs,
And teaches small children to do this in their turn.

Howard Nemerov, “To David, About His Education” from War Stories: Poems About Long Ago and Now. Copyright © 1990 by Howard Nemerov. Reprinted by permission of University of Chicago Press.

Source: War Stories: Poems About Long Ago and Now (The University of Chicago Press, 1990)

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Poet Howard Nemerov 1920–1991

Subjects Living, Youth, Activities, School & Learning, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Humor & Satire

 Howard  Nemerov

Biography

Howard Nemerov was a highly acclaimed poet often cited for the range of his capabilities and subject matter, "from the profound to the poignant to the comic," James Billington remarked in his frequently quoted announcement of Nemerov's appointment to the post of United States poet laureate. A distinguished professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1969 to 1990, Nemerov wrote poetry and fiction that managed to engage . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Youth, Activities, School & Learning, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Humor & Satire

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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