The citizens of Simplex Pond were not surprised to hear that Gilmore Hilton was asked to deliver the graduation oration to the Class of 2016 of the local high school. His store had welcomed students for years and the proprietor knew every graduate’s name and most of their families. As a former valedictorian Hilton was a popular choice, and the packed auditorium included a reporter who filed the following account.
The statuesque yet relaxed Gilmore Hilton approached the podium as the Lincoln Assembly Hall welcomed the town’s intellectual with thunderous applause. After thanking those who had invited him, he promised that Shakespeare’s “brevity is the soul of wit” would be implemented. He justified this proclamation by stating that Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” had taken less than five minutes.
The Cicero of the moment demanded that we must read “Richard Cory” again and note the most significant line: “In fine, we thought he was everything to make us wish that we were in his place.” He said that Cory may have been saved if people had understood him, and we should never think we know what is going on in another person’s mind.
A reference was made to the myth of Cupid and Psyche. The son of Venus told his soul mate, “There can be no relationship where there is no trust.” The audience responded to this adage with loud clapping.
We all knew that the speaker would refer to his favorite “Casey at the Bat.” He promised that we all “strike out” figuratively. “What you do after a setback is the real question.”
Finally, the “Sage of Simplex Pond” told the students not to fear Robert Frost’s suggestion to take “the road less traveled by.” Hilton warned his audience that such a path may have dangers. Also, “do not go there if it hurts others.”
The next day Mr. Gilmore’s store had more customers than usual. They thanked and complimented the scholar. The self-educated intellectual was flippant, “I have to be more than good-looking.” Good advice.