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(Poem of the Week)

And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, come perfect days. 


Anyone from Sioux Falls who attended Lowell School knows these lines, I would wager, from James Russell Lowell's poem "The Vision of Sir Launfal." My hometown was founded in the Centennial year of 1876, so it's not surprising that many schools were named after notable 19th-century Americans: Longfellow, Hawthorne, Garfield, Eugene Field, Cleveland, Horace Mann, Whittier, Edison (my junior high). 


I've written about this before, but when I was little, I assumed that my school was named after our milkman, Jim Lowell, who would let us ride in his truck: Of course they should name a school after him. When I discovered who James Russell Lowell really was, I dug that just as much. 

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James Russell & Jim Lowell

Soulful poet
Our milkman when I was very little was named Jim Lowell. He would give us rides in his truck, one of those old milk trucks with no doors and no front seats. He would creep along at 1 mph for about 10 feet. Nothing I relished more than standing up in a moving vehicle.

So it was not at all surprising to me that my elementary school, James Russell Lowell School, was named after a hero like him.

What was surprising was finding out that James Russell Lowell was someone else entirely. I don’t recall spending any time on the poet at Lowell School, except to memorize his most famous line: “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days”—lines that I still repeat automatically on every lovely late spring day.  Read More 
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