When I was in high school, I was blessed by having Robert Burnett as my English teacher in both my junior and senior years. He was a hardworking, kind, but challenging teacher. I believe I wrote more for Mr. Burnett in high school than I did in all my college years. At least, I know that I never had an issue with dashing off essays in Freshmen Comp, Junior Comp, and my other English literature courses. [I wrote term papers each year for Burnett – one on Alexander the Great and one on Jane Austin. Mysteriously, I never had to write another term paper until Grad School in Minnesota.]
Mr. Burnett had his classes write poems at least in the senior year. Many of us did. And besides being graded, they were sent off to the National High School Poetry Association. Some or all of the ones were published in an anthology called “Young America Sing.” [A hard-cardboard binding held the 132 pages with the help of two plastic rings.]
My poem was listed among the 20 outstanding poems. Here it is:
A Pagan Eye
If an eye exists in space,
Viewing earth and human race,
And this pagan saw a tree,
What difference would he see in me?
If I look at myself here,
Apes and I alike appear.
Food and life are common aims.
Why have our states not been the same?
Diverse degrees, night and day,
Faith and “Light” have shown our way.
God exists and gives us hope.
Famed larks have but a lowly scope!
Soul and faith have made the breach
Twixt death, decay and heaven reached.
Gift of God, my soul serene.
In life is hope of life unseen.