The Leaden-Eyed

On this last day of National Poetry Month, here’s a poem frequently quoted by Dr. Ernest L. Boyer: Vachel Lindsay’s “The Leaden-Eyed.”

Let not young souls be smothered out before

They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.

It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull,

Its poor ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.

Not that they starve; but starve so dreamlessly.

Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap,

Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve,

Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.

Quoted in a speech entitled “Truth in Education,” October 29, 1979.