(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
For the New York Observer.
On the death of Miss MARY LYON, Principal of South
Hadley Female Seminary.
HOLYOKE! when standing on thy rocky height,
What scenes are pictured to my wondering eye?
What peaceful villages around do lie,
While broad Connecticut winds on most bright
Through the loveliest vale outspread to human sight:-
No home more blest beneath the azure sky,
For Science here doth dwell with Piety,-
Temples of both out-gleaming in the light.*
But lo! a cloud thick gathers o'er thy head,
And from my view all nature's charms around
Shuts out, while soft a melancholy sound
Breaks on my ear- "Our Patroness is dead!
Our Teacher, Friend, and dearest heavenward Guide
Lies here, struck low: for her we would have died!"
*South Hadley Female Seminary on the South; Amherst Col-
lege on the North; and the steeples of many churches.
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This sonnet on the death of Mary Lyon celebrates the beauty of the middle Connecticut River Valley, but laments the landscape is darkened with the death of "our Patroness." Mary Lyon (1797-1849) was born in Buckland, Massachusetts, and made her living as a well-respected educator working in schools throughout the state. In 1837, Lyon opened the South Hadley Female Seminary, the first female institution of higher learning to present women the same curriculum as found in men's colleges. The Seminary had rigorous entrance exams, but a tuition low enough to be accessible to women from middle income families. Lyon called her school a "seminary," a term which encompassed various levels of education including, preparatory school, college and even graduate school, because she felt a "college" for women would find less support from financial backers. Society at the time questioned the need for women to achieve a higher education, believing instead, their primary role was the moral guidance of the family. Following her death, the Seminary continued to thrive. In 1888, the school achieved collegiate status and changed its name to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and College.
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"Mount Holyoke" sonnet on the death of Mary Lyon
| printer New York Observer
| date c. 1849
| location South Hadley, Massachusetts
| width 3.0"
| height 3.0"
| process/materials printed paper, ink
| item type Personal Documents/Scrapbook
| accession # #L05.116
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