to margaret coult

by William Lewin

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.

Image: New Jersey State Library
Image: New Jersey State Library

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.

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.