Beginnings

"Beginnings" was written and delivered by Elie Wiesel, author/Nobel Peace Prize winner and Calhoun parent, on the occasion of the opening and dedication of Calhoun's 81st Street building in 1975. The poem was translated by Marion Wiesel. Their daughter graduated from Calhoun in 1978.

Beginnings
By Elie Wiesel, 1975

Why start
only to finish?
Why start
and not finish?

Why say A
only to say B—
not knowing what lies in between?

And why stop at Z?
What if I feel
like going beyond—
and further still?

And why learn—
only to forget?
And how is one to learn
what to forget?

Why undertake
what cannot be concluded?
Why take along a knowledge
one fears?

Why build in time
that which is meant
to remain timeless?

They tell me
that 2x2 is 4—
forgetting the main point;
namely that I—I am one.

And yet
we count
and we build
and we begin.

We open our eyes:
that is a beginning.
We clasp a hand:
that is another.

Does there exist
a project more exhilarating
than to begin
and begin again?

Does there exist
an adventure more rewarding
a tale more human,
a concept more loving, than
taking that first step,
pronouncing that first word
and sharing that first gift?

And here
This house we are building
is rising
not just with stones
nor just with bricks
but with the dreams
of children
present and yet to be born;
it will rise
out of their laughter,
their stories
and shouts,
their need for learning
and for friendship,
and their hope—
and it will bear
their face,
the fragile yet timeless face
of all beginnings.

Main Building 3rd - 12th Grades 433 West End Avenue New York, NY 10024 212.497.6500

Robert L. Beir Lower School Building 2.8 Years - 2nd Grade 160 West 74th Street New York, NY 10023 212.497.6550

Connect With Us
powered by finalsite