S. Estelle Greathead

Registrar at the State Normal School and San Jos� State Teachers College, 1905 - 1923

Published Poet

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Legacy of Poetry
Biography Selected Poems Additional Links


  • Both a graduate and later an employee of the Normal School and Teachers College
    • Class of 1874
    • Registrar and Secretary of the Faculty from 1905 - 1923
    • Went with the faculty on the trip to Europe in 1909
  • After graduation, taught at Lexington in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She married in 1877, had one child and returned to teaching after her husband died in 1889. She taught at Reed Street School (now Lowell Elementary on 7th Street in San Jose). 
  • Member of the San Jose Poetry Society, League of American Penwomen and the Manzanita Club.
  • Born April 1855; died 1954
  • Full name - Sarah Estelle Hammond Greathead
  • Published books of her poetry and at least two other books:
    • The Story of An Inspiring Past (1928) - history of the State Normal School and San Jos� State Teachers College form 1862 to 1928
    • David Remembers - poetry, 1935
    • The Merrill Clan - a novel, 1937
    • Stepping Stones to America's Greatness
    • The Glory of the Commonplace - poetry
  • Also had some of her poems appear in publications of the school such as the Normal Pennant.
  • She once worked as an editor of a children's magazine.
  • Source: Article in Alumni Review, May 1951; and The Story of an Inspiring Past
  • Photo

Selected Poems

  • "Taj Mahal"
    • This poem appeared in the June 1908 edition of The Normal Pennant, vol. 10, No. 9, page 14.

Taj Mahal

How sharply keen the royal grief

That carved these stubborn stones

And placed them row on row.

How softly warm the kingly tears

That woke these mines of slumbering gems

And made them glow.

How strange that this bejeweled shrine,

This iridescent vision

Of the human brain,

Should rise from out the fumes of love

And grief that burned within

A crucible of pain.

  • "The Inner Vision"
    • "An Offering to Henry Meade Bland"
    • Published in The Laureate's Wreath - An Anthology in honor of Dr. Henry Meade Bland Poet Laureate of California (1934), The Edwin Markham Poetry Society Chapter of the Poetry Society of London, page 58

The Inner Vision

Gently he lived, gently he died;
His seeking spirit satisfied
If it could voice in tuneful rhyme
The beautiful in space or time.

No fetters bound him to his task;
Work was a joy, he did not ask
A life of solitude to dream,
Unhampered by the human stream.

His spirit never lost its youth,
Nor veiled for him the face of truth,
Nor did a faltering faith obscure
An inner vision, steadfast,�sure.

The pricks of pain, the stabs of fate
Tried vainly to unbar the gate
That kept his spirit in a shrine
Where it could feed on things divine.

Gently he lived, gently he died;
His seeking spirit satisfied
If it could voice in tuneful rhyme
The beautiful in space or time.

  • "Montalvo"

    • From David Remembers (1935), page 38. The foreword of this book thanks the "friends of the San Jose State College Alumni who shouldered the uninspiring but necessary details of bringing this book from manuscript to the dignity of the printed page."  The book is dedicated to the "group of men and women who planned so wisely and so well, and to those following them who caught the gleam and passed it on" to create San Jose State College. 


Montalvo, shrine of poesy and art!
Thy living altars set themselves apart
To burn the incense of man's pure desire
Before the smoking, sacrificial fire.

Within thy sunlight pathways peace is found,
Thy shadowed pools hide mysteries of sound,
Thy rainbow beds of flowers intoxicate
With wine of color, subtly delicate.

An artist soul envisioned this rare spot,
And spilled his color tubes on sward and ploy
With lavish hands, embodying every hue
Of rose and purple, violet and blue.

Who but a poet dreamed that emerald pool,
Guarded by stately palms, aloof and cool,
And then, by beauty challenged, caught the lance
Hurled by the giants of the Renaissance.

And passed it on to those whose souls were lit
With high desire to share the prick of it.
God's smile is mirrored in this sylvan shade,
And man has made that smile his accolade.

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Legacy of Poetry

Additional Links

  • Locate books by Mrs. Greathead in the King Library catalog

This page last updated January 27, 2007

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Source: Story of an Inspiring Past (1928) by Greathead

Last Modified: Feb 22, 2023