The Cairn

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

When I think of the little children learning
In all the schools of the world,
Learning in Danish, 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
My heart breaks.
Come up, children! Toss your little stones gaily
On the great cairn of Knowledge!
(Where lies what Euclid knew, a little gray stone,
What Plato, what Pascal, what Galileo:
Little gray stones, little gray 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.

Monadnock Valley Press > Millay