Dr. Henry Meade Bland
Dr. Henry Meade Bland was a celebrated poet in San Jose, California. He had a PhD and taught English at San Jose State College from 1899 to 1931. I thought about dedicating a Find-A-Grave memorial to him, but there is already so much information about him on the web that the memorial would be redundant. One of the best articles about his life and accomplishments was written by Professor Annette Nellen at the San Jose State webite. Check it out.
When the famous Tower was dedicated at San Jose State, Dr. Bland wrote a poem to mark the occasion. It was called “The College Tower Speaks”:
Some years ago I was walking the grounds of San Jose State (my alma mater, Class of 1972), when I noticed that Dr. Bland’s plaque had been overgrown with ivy and could hardly be read. I notified the Administration and they agreed to cut back the ivy.
Dr. Bland was well-known for wearing his strange cap, but writing poetry was his greatest love and activity. In 1929, he was voted by the State Legislature to become California’s second Poet Laureate. He died on April 30, 1931, at the age of 68.
The photo below is of Dr. Bland teaching a class on the San Jose State quadrangle in 1929. Notice the lovely archway behind the students, adorned with the inlaid tile design so closely associated with San Jose State. These archways, which connected all buildings on campus, were torn down in the fall of 1964, just as I was beginning my junior year there. They were demolished because the forces-that-be feared they were not earthquake proof. Plans were made to tear down the famous tower as well, but a hue and cry from the community prevented it. The Tower still stands today.
Dr. Bland wrote a short poem on souls and their journey though life:
For souls immortal always were,
And only briefly rest or stir
In human clay-on earth, a day-
And then are on their wonder-way.
Men of history like Dr. Bland make me regret that I could not know them personally, but can only read about them so many years after their deaths. How true is his poem above — human souls are only briefly clay — on earth, a day, and then we are gone.