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What is History? A Poetic Answer

Updated on April 26, 2015

What is a history lesson?

Is it musty old books?

Is it desks lined in a row?

Is it a teacher lecturing,

Answering questions,

Saying Who could know?

Is history held in the cry,

the cry of a hunting eagle?

Is it held in the shot of a musket?

Or Perhaps it is held in the

Fierce debate of Congress.

It is in the roar of a protest,

Screaming for freedom.

It is in the glory of a rocket,

Sailing to the moon.

It is in the first cry,

The cry of a newborn.

Or maybe, just maybe, it lives

Within us.

In the stories we tell of long ago,

In the nights spent by the crackling fire,

When childhoods are told.

It will be here when we are gone,

Held in monuments tall and proud,

In books whispering, telling of tales,

In abandoned buildings kept only

By ghosts of the past.

Some background on this short poem

I came up with this poem when I was in high school. Ironically, it was when I was not paying any attention at all in my US History class. My idea behind this is that history is a living thing. How many times has a new discovery been made about what was thought to be already well established history? Not only that, but we are making history every day. Not with elections or wars, but with our own everyday tasks.


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