Oh Sangamon

by John Knoepfle

[lines for the fortieth anniversary celebration of the founding of the university of illinois at springfield]

it was the dream of something special
set a temporary campus and above
dominant on the hill the library
and it was with its mandate
not any starting school
but a public affair concerned with
the public and the public’s affairs

so from that first day this place
announced this is who we are
this is the business of sangamon state
we will win national championships
we will bring the nations leaders to springfield
there will be scholars and authors
diplomats and political thinkers and tribal leaders

and the women will speak out with confidence
that was a given from the beginning for faculty and staff
and writers would be drawn to springfield
and a mix of students local and foreign
that was the school’s birth right realization
an activist committed university
fashioned whole cloth from activist times

this is how it was conceived
how it grew into the present university
this center for studies in springfield
and may it always be a source of learning and of life
where a native illinois people could have said
wahahjockdaybowayetahwaheeahkon to all gathering here
may you be happy in a happy place