AVE ATQUE VALE
"There's nothing I don't know,
or shall not know again, over and over again"
"LAST WORDS" - JAMES MERRILL
O Muse, stand close, that I may grace
With grandiose rhyme, this time, this place,
Where Pantry Brook Farm joined with Featherland
To form a “Working Together Land” —
Which became, as if “Peter Panned,”
A scholastic “Never-Never-Land,”
Wherein all were touched by wands
That created universal bonds
Immeasurable and immemorial,
Bonds that link all aspects - janitorial
To administrative — so whatever one’s role,
The same heart, the same soul
Duly presides - sweet “unruly rule” -
Over this truly anarchic school,
The full bloom of whose felicity
Is its cumulative eccentricity!
Homer’s Iliad catalogues men and ships.
So, following him, let there fall from my lips,
An incomplete and tentative,
Yet hopefully representative,
Roll call ringing down through the ages
Of some of our iconoclast sages!
O many here at this party are partial
To Jim Newton, Phil Lewis, and Alex Marshall,
And fondly recall their time in the rooms
Of Ray Martin, Brad Sargent, and Miriam Coombs,
And in courtyards were pleased to happen upon
Katy Barton, the Plotts, and Will Ruliffson.
And how young at heart were those old codgers -
Ginny Kirshner, Doc Heath, and Harriet Rogers!
And everyone wanted to be “palsy-walsky”
With guys like Paul Mitchell and Tom Puchalsky!
And looked up, as to Fonzi in “Happy Days,”
To Joe Pacenka and Frank Heys;
And “unrulily” were pleased to be ruled
By Bob Wentworth, Bill Schechter, and Don Gould!
And though that may not be “the kaboodle and kit”
Of you troglodytes, I think I have hit
On enough so that now, for the nonce, I shall quit,
And get back to the theme of demolition
Which is the Prime Cause of my disquisition.
So now, Muse, mixing sadness with elation,
Help me sing Lincoln-Sudbury’s transfiguration,
To sing what lies ahead of us
Now that our dear old edifice
Will be falling before the wrecker’s ball
As it hits North House, as it hits Blue Hall!
A brand new structure, which clearly isn’t
Much like this one has arisen -
Resembling more an Office Park
Than our “Let ‘em all in” Noah’s Ark,
Which we frankly thought, some rainy day,
Would wash down to the fields and float away
To land upon Ararat someday.
Noah’s Ark indeed! For encompassed within
Was such animal life, so diverse a din,
Such sheer energy ‘neath one roof jam-packed,
No wonder roofs leaked, no wonder walls cracked!
But there was in this a saving grace,
For the genius of single-level space
Is that, logistically, it compels
Everyone to run into everyone else!
Some might argue that congestion smothers,
But there is a different set of “druthers”
Nicely expressed in our School Motto
(And if you’ve not learned it yet, you ought to!):
It’s in Latin, so Muse help me say:
“Tuo ingeno utere,
Cole ingenium aliorum.”
No need to translate for those in this quorum
Of the Roman persuasion who frequent the “Forum,”
But for those less “Promethean” than their brothers,
It’s “Think FOR yourself, but think OF others”
Long, long in the folds of this structure draped,
By its free-form lineaments we have been shaped:
As Paul Mitchell put it, “The world is your oyster”
So we broke the shell, got out of the cloister,
And taking Paul’s counsel, went free-wheeling,
With nary a trace of “we-they” feeling,
Into programs totally unsequestered -
Got “Metco-ed,” got “Alternate-Semester-ed,”
And, through Nimbus, got “Outward-Bounded”!
Who could help but become well-rounded
When one moment we’re reading texts archival,
And the next we’re outdoors, “Living in Survival!”
Oh, there have been threats to these “fast and loose” standards,
Times when, unwillingly, we have pandered
To “seat time” of nine-hundred-and-ninety hours,
But we have consistently fought the powers-
that-be, consistently fought “MCAS”-ment,
And all those pernicious forms of harassment
That out of fear and folly deny
That what we must do is to “teach hearts to fly”
And defend to the limit that most sublime
Of learning moments called “unassigned time!”
For we’re here to do things that will “out-endure” all
Attempts to quantify - things like a mural,
A concert, an Aids Walk, a lively discussion!
THESE are the instruments of percussion
That can break up the mass of conformity
Leading to the enormity
Of abuses difficult to confront
That reveal, in those photos both graphic and blunt,
The daunting task we all face
To harbor and nurture the whole human race.
So Hail and Farewell — “Ave Atque Vale”:
For whether it be wisdom or folly
That bulldozers will come to destroy
This place of our sorrow, this place of our joy,
We’ll hold tightly to the residual charms
We felt to our core when we linked arms
At our Fortieth - We’ll endure the crumbling
Of that part of our history that will come tumbling
Down, for what will in one sense lie buried,
In another, will be forever carried
In our minds and hearts, in those intertwined
Memories that forever bind
Us close, however they raze this scene.
So take heart: “Whatever’s left of green
I’ll save for you” - that’s how the line goes!
Now, Muse, stand close, as at my close
I cite further, “The past is never dead.
It’s not even past.” What Faulkner said
Is so true of you, the repository
Of rich mosaics of song and story
That live on, bright as dawn, in their morning glory!
Parent of 8 children who
attended L-S., from 1972-1986
(Rowena, Lee, Perry, Burr,
Eroica, Skye, Peter, Evan)
Written for and recited at
L-S Great Gathering
May 29, 2004