a salary sonnet for teachers

by William Lewin

Image: National Library of Medicine
Image: National Library of Medicine

My purse is thin tonight, and O the rain
        Weeps down in torrents, and the east wind sighs,
        Bidding the naughty world to lachrymize
For all the teacher’s horrid, unpaid pain,
His check book’s anguish, and the dolorous train
        Of mental sufferings that agonize
        The devotee of youth before whose eyes
Rises the Vision of the Raise in vain!

Pour then, ye torrents, and ye winds complain!
Fair weather would be bittersweet to me
        And all the loveliness of sunny skies
A heartache. O let sun and stars disdain
        To look on men till taxing gods devise
A cure for all the teacher’s misery!

An English teacher at Central High School when this poem—pseudonymously signed “A mere pedagogue”—appeared in the Newark Evening News of February 22, 1919, William Lewin later served as president of the Schoolmen’s Club, which raised funds to place historic markers around the city. He authored pamphlets on historic subjects, and promoted the educational value of motion pictures both in Newark and nationally.

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