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A Dartmouth New Year

Jack Boger ‘13 published a column in The D’s Mirror supplement this past May 24 that can only be described as a love letter to the College. The Office of Alumni Relations liked it enough that it took the piece’s middle section and used it as background narration against well chosen photographs of the campus. A fine effort all around.

On this promising New Year’s Day, may I suggest that you enjoy Jack’s piece by reading the first section of text below, then listening to the YouTube treatment of the middle section, and then finishing with Jack’s final words and Edwin Frost ‘30’s poem.

Happy New Year!

This Dartmouth

By JACK BOGER, The Dartmouth Staff
May 24, 2013

Part of the advice I received for this piece was to write the article you’ve always wanted to write, but a column in the senior issue has never been something I have looked forward to. Like most things happening to me as my college years wind to a close, this has a distinct air of surrealism. Final articles have always been something for the older, other kids at Dartmouth, the ones on the way out. I can’t quite believe that now I am one of those older, other kids. I only hope that I seem as cool to the underclassmen as the 10s, 11s, and 12s did to me.

However, what little coolness and street cred I have are likely to be lost after reading this article, because this is going to be as sappy as it gets. But please allow this washed-up senior his due, and let me spill some ink about how I feel about this place, even if no one reads this except my mom.

Dear old Dartmouth: how I love you so. When Dwight D. Eisenhower said this is what a college should look like, he was so right. When I die I hope they bury my heart in Hanover, so that it can be returned it to its rightful owner. The majestic tower of Baker Library gets me every time. I can’t walk past Webster Hall without admiring the artistry of its Corinthian columns, or pass through Sanborn Library without pausing to gaze at Eleazar Wheelock’s old Italian wallpaper in the Poetry Room.

In these final days at Dartmouth I have fallen more deeply in love with this place than ever. Now I find beauty in the details, the smell of spring coming from the crab apple blossoms, glorious in their ivory bloom, the Vermont hills rising above the river, the gorgeous stonework on McNutt Hall. I am trying to soak it all in, painfully aware that in a few short weeks this will all be taken away from me.

I’ll miss Observatory Hill, where Robert Frost sits, forever composing, watched over by Bartlett Tower and the Lone Pine stump. I’ll miss the sign placed up there on a piece of New Hampshire granite by the Class of 1923 on the eve of their 50th reunion, which reads “Who doth not answer to the rudder shall answer to the rock.” I’ll miss Nathan’s Garden and how verdant and vibrant it is in the summertime. I’ll miss Mount Moosilauke and its rugged peak, up in alpine zone where forests starve. I’ll miss the little path through the graveyard to Thayer, a stark but beautiful memento mori before my 10A.

In closing, I’d like to share a poem written by Edwin Frost ‘30 that captured, at least in his mind, what his four years at Dartmouth meant. A friend introduced it to me after writing a paper on Bruce Nickerson ‘64, the first son of Dartmouth to give his life in Vietnam. Bruce closed his speech on Dartmouth Night in October 1963 with this poem, and I can think of no better ending than its beautiful and haunting words:

THIS HIGHLAND PLAIN OF SNOWS, THESE HILLS

This garden of winter, these arctic stars,

This spring of knowing, bound in peace,
This granite purpose raised in men for use
Around the girdled earth is wisdom,
End of smallness, this deepening horizon
This jewel of all the northern lights
Which leaves no darkened sea uncharted
Or hope against the future dead; An anchor for the misty dream of living,
This hour, this standard, this religion,
This Dartmouth.

Addendum: A native of Sandy Springs, Georgia, Jack Boger ‘13 received his commission in June as a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps after graduating from Officer Candidates School his junior summer. At the College, he was a history major, a Presidential Scholar, a War and Peace Fellow, a brother of Theta Delta Chi, and the co-president of the Bait and Bullet Club. This past summer he studied post-conflict reconstruction at the American University in Kosovo on a grant from the Dickey Center; he is now waiting to begin active duty in April at the Marine Corps’ Basic School, a six-month small unit leadership course in Quantico, Virginia. Semper fi.

Addendum: Jack reports that he has been unable to find the complete Edwin Frost ‘30 poem. He thinks that the lines that Bruce Nickerson ‘64 quoted are only a portion of the verse. Does anyone have the entire poem?

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