Dr. Seuss’s 1977 Commencement Address

(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/9/Dr.-Seusss-1977-Commencement-Address on April 4, 2010 8:43 AM)

On June 1977, Theodor Seuss Geisel was invited to give the commencement address of Lake Forest College (outside Chicago). Here is his 75-second address entitled “My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers” (from Judith & Neil Morgan, Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography. New York: Random House, 1995, pp. 234-235):

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
And when they were served,
he regarded them
with a penetrating stare …
Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
“To eat these things,”
said my uncle,
“you must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid …
BUT …
you must spit out the air!”

And …
as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
that’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.

Judith and Neil Morgan add: “As Ted sat down, there was bedlam.  Students shouted, cheered and flung their caps into the air.  He was startled, for it was his first experience with the fervor with which many young Americans had begun to canonize Dr. Seuss.  These graduates were of the generation most critical of the Vietnam war, and from their earliest memories of Dr. Seuss books they had assumed that he too must be skeptical of the establishment.  Now they’d heard evidence from the master’s lips.”

On a related note, if ever you are asked to give a commencement address, try not to copy from others.  (See this, this, and this.)

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