Word of an opportunity named Cornell
wound its way down the country road,
reached the farm boy.
He traded dust-covered overalls,
plaid shirt, heavy boots
for chinos, a shirt crisp with starch,
Sunday shoes and a good cap,
piled into a car with friends to head north
to see ivy climbing brick walls,
a clock tower higher than anything he'd seen,
a town spread out at the feet of the hills.
The friends met with important men in suits and ties
who sat behind great oak desks,
wore specs, sucked on pipes.
Yes indeed, Cornell would be thrilled
to have some fine young men
from Old Chatham.
Tuition, you'll find, is quite reasonable.
Then hand-shaking and gracious
Thank you kindly, sirs.
The boys set off for home,
stopping at night to sleep
roadside, under the stars.
That night, he didn't dream of
his hands on udders,
or carrying warm buckets of milk,
hands blistered from the handle of a shovel
and stiff leather reins.
Didn't dream of counting
each penny over and over
until he was sure that the tuition was stored safely
in the collection of glass jars in his closet.
He dreamt instead of the greenest ivy,
of a clocktower touching the sky,
while a farm boy, a student, on a hill
beheld all the world stretched out at his feet.