Death is not tragedy; the valiant years Die but to be reborn when fragrant spring Follows the dreary winter; autumn days Cool the hot summer with September winds; Blithe on the heels of blustering March and April Steeped in showers, lo! the tonic May Eternally arrives. About to die, We see ourselves reborn; the wrinkled sire Lives in his blooming grandchild once again; So lives the teacher amid youth reborn That rank on rank interminably moves on Toward structures of a transcendental day.
Stark tragedy is in that living death Which knows not freedom, happiness, and truth With joy of work in tune with sun and stars.
Margaret Coult was the long-time head of Barringer High School’s English department. Louis Ginsberg was one of thousands of Newarkers introduced to poetry through her teaching.
Another of Coult’s students, William Lewin taught English at Central High School when this tribute to Coult appeared in the Newark Evening News of June 26, 1930, a few days after her death.
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.