Last Lesson of the Afternoon

 

When will the bell ring, and end this weariness?

How long have they tugged the leash, and strained apart,

My pack of unruly hounds! I cannot start

Them again on a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt,

5I can haul them and urge them no more.

 

No longer now can I endure the brunt

Of the books that lie out on the desks; a full threescore

Of several insults of blotted pages, and scrawl

Of slovenly work that they have offered me.

10I am sick, and what on earth is the good of it all?

What good to them or me, I cannot see!

 

                                                 So, shall I take

My last dear fuel of life to heap on my soul

And kindle my will to a flame that shall consume

15Their dross of indifference; and take the toll

Of their insults in punishment? — I will not! -

 

I will not waste my soul and my strength for this.

What do I care for all that they do amiss!

What is the point of this teaching of mine, and of this

20Learning of theirs? It all goes down the same abyss.

 

What does it matter to me, if they can write

A description of a dog, or if they can't?

What is the point? To us both, it is all my aunt!

And yet I'm supposed to care, with all my might.

 

25I do not, and will not; they won't and they don't; and that's all!

I shall keep my strength for myself; they can keep theirs as well.

Why should we beat our heads against the wall

Of each other? I shall sit and wait for the bell.