I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,
As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Howard Nemerov's poem September, The First Day Of School

5 Comments

  1. Muhammad Ali Malik says:

    I think the central theme is that great achievement, successes in one’s life need sacrifices and efforts we make, our parents and teachers extend and above all blessings of God Almighty.

  2. marzia says:

    theme please? i need it urgently

  3. Tahseenullah says:

    What is the main idea of this lesson

    • waleed says:

      poem or lesson…?

    • Kim Jaehyun says:

      The main idea of the poem is that education is necessary and this poem is written by a father’s point of view who is sending his child school for the first time he says that we are confused that our child will come out of this school as failure or a successful person but still we have to take this risk and have to send our child to school.

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