Schoolmaster clears his weary throat,
prepares to wake the restless class
adorned in black robes, mortarboards,
gold tassels swaying in the wind
as raspy words rag at their ears
which listen more to rising tides.

His written speech reads faintly here
beneath the sunlight burning bold.
The podium, though formidable,
accentuates his failing frame.
The microphone, that spiteful thing,
exaggerates each wheeze and gasp.

His words intend to send souls forth,
provoke fresh spirits, impel hearts,
invoke old wisdom, thrill, inspire,
to lend new masters ancient fire
--Promethean, as he would say--
but something slips away today.

What were the points of looking backward,
resurrecting Orpheus,
referring to Bellerophon,
exhuming myths from tomes and tombs,
upsetting dust from bloodless times?
These young ones mustn't give a damn.

Above the field seagulls sing
and circle the suspension bridge
that arches over charging waves
where many minds here swim or sail.
No eloquence can call them back
to this commencement exercise.

Reviving lost Odysseus,
he warns of getting swept to sea,
reversing fortunes, metaphors
to muster up profundity
as caps get cast into the air
as if he is no longer there,

at most a roaming ghostly moan
to haunt some unread denizen,
an eager Socrates few heed
when all learn fast to graduate,
become the novel, next the past,
and then the questions rarely asked.

Valediction © Copyright 2021, Robert J. Tiess.

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225 words.  T. S. Eliot challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: June 9, 2021