The Old Reading Class by Will Carleton from Rhymes of our Planet 1895 I cannot tell you, Genevieve, how oft it comes to me That rather young old reading-class, in District Number Three! Those callow elocutionists who stood so straight in line, And charged at standard literature, with varying design. We did not spare the energy in which our words were clad; We held the meaning of the text in all the light we had; But still, I fear the authors of the lines we read so free Would scarce have recognized their work, in District Number Three! Outside, the snow was smooth and clean the winter's thick-laid dust; The storm it made the windows speak, at every sudden gust. Bright sleigh-bells sung us pleasant songs, when travellers would pass; The maple trees along the road stood shivering in their class. Beyond, the white-browed cottages were nestling cold and dumb, And far away, the mighty world seemed beckoning us to come The wondrous world, of which we conned what had been and might be In that old fashioned reading class of District Number Three! We lent a hand to History - its altars, spires, and flames, And uniformly mispronounced the most important names; We wandered through Biography, and gave our fancy play, And with some subjects fell in love "good only for one day"; In Romance and Philosophy we settled many a point, And made what poems we assailed to creak at every joint. And many writers that we love, you with me must agree, Were first time introduced to us, in District Number Three. You recollect Susanna Smith- the teacher's sore distress Who never stopped at any point: a sort of day express? And timid young Sylvester Jones, of inconsistent sight, Who stumbled on the easy words, and read the hard ones right? And Jenny Green, whose doleful voice was mostly clothed in black? And Samuel Hicks, whose tones induced the plastering all to crack? And Andrew Tubbs, whose cruel mouths were quite a show to see? Alas! we could not find them, now, in District Number Three! And Jasper Jenckes, whose tears would flow, at each pathetic word (He's in the prize-fight business, now, and hits'em hard, I've heard); And Bennie Bayne, whose every tone he murmured as in fear; (His tongue is not so timid, now; he is an auctioneer) And Lanty Wood, whose voice was just endeavoring hard to change, And leaped from hoarse to fiercely shrill, with most surprising range; Also his sister 'Liza Ann, so full of prudish glee; Ah, they are now in higher schools than District Number Three! So back these various voices come, though long the years have grown, And seem uncommonly distinct, through Memory's telephone; And some are full of melody, and bring a sense of cheer, And some can smite the rock of time, and summon forth a tear; But one sweet voice comes back to me, whenever sad I grieve, And sings a song: and that is yours-O peerless Genevieve! It brightens up the olden times, and throws a smile at me A silver star among the clouds of District Number Three!