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Kitty Hawk

by Robert Frost

(excerpt)

Westerners inherit
A design for living
Deeper into matter—
Not without due patter
Of a great misgiving.
All the science zest
To materialize
By on-penetration
Into earth and skies
(Don’t forget the latter
Is but further matter)
Has been West Northwest…

Spirit enters flesh
And for all it’s worth
Charges into earth
In birth after birth
Ever fresh and fresh.
We may take the view
That its derring-do
Thought of in the large
Was one mighty charge
On our human part
Of the soul’s ethereal
Into the material.

Released one year before his death, “Kitty Hawk” was published in Frost’s final volume, entitled In the Clearing (1962). Situated within an iconic, historical event (the first manned flight of a controlled, powered airplane), the poem probes the human impulse to invent ways of delving “deeper into matter.” Frost was one of America’s most celebrated poets, with four Pulitzer Prizes and a Congressional Gold Medal, and he was keen to explore the implications of modern science throughout his verse.

In due time, classical education touches upon every subject, through the arts of language and the sciences of inquiry, preparing students for an ever-expanding circle of knowledge and equipping them to apply that knowledge to the common good.

When I started looking at the characteristics of high achievers, I found that they had lots of things that made them special, but grit emerged as an important common denominator, whether you’re talking about a prima ballerina, a grand chess master, a mathematician, or a writer.

Westerners inherit A design for living Deeper into matter—Not without due patter Of a great misgiving. All the science zest To materialize By on-penetration Into earth and skies (Don’t forget the latter Is but further matter) Has been West Northwest…

In 2007, Meredith Palmer received her diploma from Veritas Preparatory Academy (Phoenix, AZ) as part of the first graduating class of that classical charter school. Eleven years later, she is pursuing her passions for research, biology, and the Serengeti.

When the SAT was founded in 1926, it helped to level the playing field for excellent students who lacked the pedigree to attend Ivy League colleges. It allowed the very best students to rise to positions of leadership and influence in business and politics, regardless of background.

The liberal arts, which teach us to consider at the same time the huge and the tiny, are the antidote par excellence to this microscopic approach. Moreover, the liberal arts teach about the human things—what we especially need to emphasize in an age of mechanism and simulation.

Virtue is the flagship publication of the Institute for Classical Education. It disseminates stories, ideas, research and experiences in classical education to readers across the nation, helping them pursue the classical ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty.

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