Analysis: In School Days
?In School Life? is a melancholy poem written by John Greenleaf Whittier. In the poem an old man reflects back upon his life and remembers his childhood days. One incident in particular stands out, when he experiences his first love. As one grows older they learn to appreciate what the true treasures in life are and that those moments will stay in their hearts forever.
Whittier sets the scene by an old schoolhouse by a road. It is his schoolhouse, where he grew up and his education began. ?And blackberry-vines are creeping. / Within the master’s desk is seen, / Deep-scarred by raps official.? He gives the audience a feeling a darkness and sadness. This is being emphasized by Whittier with the word ?creeping? in the forth line.
The point of view is that of a young boy. As the school day ends everyone leaves, except for a little boy and girl. They meet after school and the girl tells the boy she loves him. ?I hate to go above you, / Because, ? —the brown eyes lower fell,— / ?Because, you see, I love you!?? At first she is talking to him to apologize for making him look bad in class. She than tells him that she is sorry because she loves him. Whittier uses the dash marks around the phrase ?the brown eyes lower fell? to emphasize the change in mood from a little dark and sad to an embarrassing moment in time that changes the whole feeling of the poem, to love and warmth.
After the speaker tells of how he met his first love he returns to the present time. ?Still memory to a gray-haired man / That sweet child-face is showing.? He is an old man now but he still vividly remembers down to the last detail, how he met her. This is one of those things that he will never forget as long as he lives. ?Dear girl! The grasses on her grave / Have forty years been growing. ? The narrator is saying that even though years have passed, love is one of those things that is not just forgotten; it remains with the person forever.