A Failure of American Education

46  bar rises 30.08 0mph N dewpoint 32 Spring

            Waxing Gibbous Moon of Growing

“There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.” – George Santayana

Santayana liked football, but only practice.  While at Harvard, he attended practice faithfully, but never went to a game.  His philosophical wisdom has a firm place in American letters though he retained his Spanish citizenship until his death.  Here’s a sample of his poetry:                    

I give back to the earth what the earth gave,
All to the furrow, nothing to the grave.
The candle’s out, the spirit’s vigil spent;
Sight may not follow where the vision went.             

As Americans we too often forget our own poets, philosophers and people of letters.  We scan back over the literary and artistic output of Western civilization to find exemplars.  If we’re truly catholic, we might even include Asia, but how many among us know Santayana?  Dewey?  James?  Emerson?  Thoreau?  How many have read, say, Moby Dick?  Whitman?  Emily Dickinson?  Even Frost and Sandburg beyond their iconic poems?  Willa Cather?  Have we heard of Charles Hartshorne?  How about Ambrose Bierce?  Wallace Stevens?  John Dos Passos? Sherwood Anderson? American has produced great artists like Pollock, the Hudson River School painters, John Singer-Sargent and Whistler, but again who knows them?  Only a few.

This is a failure of American education and of our willingness to learn our own heritage.  This is not trivial.  A people who do not know where they come from, as Santayana famously said, are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. 

I will add a brief bio here from time to time of more American persons of belles lettres.  Our future depends upon us becoming more than casually acquainted with them.

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