Friday, November 1, 2019

"The School of Life" for Bill West's Annual Genealogy Poetry Challenge

My grandmother reading in our living room in Holden, MA

This poem and blog post are for Bill West's eleventh annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge
Bill will be posting all the submissions on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 21st, 2019.  These poems should make great reading while you are waiting for your turkey in the oven!

This poem was written by my grandmother, Bertha Louise (Robert) Wilkinson, who was born 30 September 1897 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England.  She immigrated (through Ellis Island) in 1915 with her parents and brother to join her married sister in Beverly, Massachusetts.  She raised three boys in Beverly, including my father, and later in life she retired to Long Beach California.  She lived near my uncle, who had married a member of the LDS church. My grandparents also joined the LDS church upon moving to California, which might have inspired this poem? [I've included this poem with her spelling and punctuation]

The School of Life  -  by Bertha Wilkinson

This World is like a great big school
Each child his lesson, each child his rule
Just like the school there is the class
Through which each and every soul must pass.

We all begin to learn from birth
And also have our joy and mirth
Our Master, the Divine One knows
When we are drawing to a close.

Who knows but what the life each hath,
May be the continuance of a path
Some children older than the others
May help along their younger brothers.

So step by step we tread the way
Inspired by teachers of an earlier day
The truth is found in everything
So each heart and soul can sing.

Old souls, young souls, we journey on
To reach the goal that must be won
When we have reaped what we have sown
Then we shall know as we are known.

Experience, a teacher we must obey
And gather knowledge from day to day
Through fire, mud, doubt and fear,
To God at last we will be near.

So when at last we graduate
We'll conquer death and laugh at fate
Then we shall stay in Heaven with God
To guide the others through the clod.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, ""The School of Life" for Bill West's Annual Genealogy Poetry Challenge", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 1, 2019, ( accessed [access date]).


  1. Heather, As a retired teacher, I love this poem! My choice for Bill's poetry challenge will post next week. I look forward to reading these every year.

  2. Heather:
    "When we have reaped what we have sown
    Then we shall know as we are known."
    I've have now added "clod" to my lexicon.
    Thank you for making an effort to improve the world by sharing such a treasure.
    Hope to see you soon!
    - Y

  3. I always enjoy the poems from your family.
    Thanks Heather for sharing with us!