The Cairn

When I think of the little children learning
In all the schools of the world,
Learning in Dnaish, learning in Japanese
That two and two are four, and where the rivers of the world
Rise, and the names of the mountains and the principal cities,
My heart breaks.
Come up, children! Toss your little stones gaily
On the great cairn of Knowledge!
(Where lies what Eculid knew, a little grey stone,
What Plato, what Pascal, what Galileo:
Little grey stones, little grey stones on a cairn.)
Tell me, what is the name of the highest mountain?
Name me a crater of fire! a peak of snow!
Name me the mountains on the moon!
But the name of the mountain that you climb all day,
Ask not your teacher that.

-- Edna St Vincent Millay

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