NoD: Jesse Stuart

Jesse Stuart Memorial
Courthouse Lawn, Greenup, Ky.
On the county courthouse lawn of Greenup County sit a number of memorials. One of these is dedicated to Greenup County's finest son, Jesse Stuart. Stuart was born in Riverton, Greenup Co. in 1907. He was named Kentucky's poet laureate in 1954. At the time, and until 1990, poet laureates in Kentucky were selected by the General Assembly and held the title for life (since 1990, the Governor has annually named a poet laureate for the Commonwealth). [*]

Stuart famously said, "Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." His poems, short stories and autobiographical sketches illustrate Kentucky's people and places with vivid descriptions.

One of the classic Jesse Stuart's is the Split Cherry Tree wherein a young boy is kept late at school for climbing and damaging a cherry tree. His uneducated father, upset that the youth wasn't home to help with his chores, goes to the school to quarrel with the boy's teacher. In the end, the father realizes the importance of education.

The marker on the courthouse lawn reads: "By your own soul's law learn to live. / And if Men Thwart You, Take No Heed. / If Men Hate You, Have No Care. / Sing Your Song, Dream Your Dream. / Hope Your Hope and Pray Your Prayer." Which is peculiar, as this poem is attributed not to Stuart but to Pakenham Beatty. (Anyone know the story on that???) Mr. Stuart died in 19984.