Virginia Somes Sanderson

English Professor at the San Jos� State Teachers College

Published Poet and Playwright

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Legacy of Poetry
Biography Selected Poems Additional Links


  • Started at the SJSTC English Department in 1922 teaching Oral English, Public Speaking and Drama. Per the State College Times of October 26, 1922 (page 1) in an article "Many New Faculty Members Here This Year:"  
    • "Virginia Somes Sanderson, A.M., University of California, is the new teacher of Public Speaking and English. Miss Sanderson taught vocal expression and dramatics for two years in Paso Robles. Two years ago, Miss Sanderson won the prize awarded by the Drama League of America. Her play was entitled, "Bread Upon the Waters."
  • Earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California
  • Attended Oxford for summer school in 1925 and the Sorbonne at Paris University in fall 1925
  • Works:
    • Potpourri (1925) - book of poetry
    • Bread Upon the Waters - one-act play that won the Drama League of America prize in the 1920s
    • It Happened Long Ago in Judea (1926) - one act play 
  • Also had some of her poems appear in publications of the school such as the The Quill, a publication of the English Club at the College.
  • The Quill of May 1930 (Vol. 5, No. 1) was dedicated to Dr. Sanderson "poet, instructor, and dramatic coach, who has won a place in the hearts of all through her unselfish service to San Jose State College."
  • Source: The Story of an Inspiring Past (1928) by Estelle Greathead

Selected Poems

  • "To Scotland"
    • This poem appeared in the May 1930 edition of The Quill, Vol. 5, No. 1, page 4.

To Scotland

I may forget the past when I am old

And live in shadows and imaginings,

Only aware of palsy and the cold,

Or vaguely conscious of forgotten things;

But let someone breathe in my ear this name,

"Scotland!" and my old eyes will catch new light;

For memory, the dim cool, will burst in flame

Until my veins run fire with old delight.

I shall seem young again and once more stand

In that dear country under the dear sky;

Upon some silent moor I'll hold God's hand

While winds that sweep the spirit clear flash by!

Or on a purple-heathered hill I'll be,

Beneath bare crags, where Beauty sits, austere,

And as she turns her well-loved face to me,

I shall quite conquer Death who waits so near

My old age fancies. Let him pause a while;�

Or let him come,� it will be better so!

I'll drift, in memory, past Ellen's isle

Into his deeper current, and not know!

  • "Sonnet"
    • Published in The Quill, April 1929, Vol. 4, No. 2, page 13


Since I have known you Death has grown to real!

I am afraid to doubt Eternity

Since Faith alone will keep you safe for me,

And yet I cannot shut out terror, steel

My heart against the fear that Death will seal

Your lips, your eyes forever, pitilessly,

I am not brave. Even if I could see

The future clear, read what it might reveal

Of immortality, Death still would stand

A spectre to me,� lest we should not meet

But wonder lonely in his shadow land,

Vain, unsubstantial things. How should I greet

You without power of speech or touch of hand?

These are the thoughts which are my torture, Sweet.

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Legacy of Poetry

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This page last updated May 24, 2007

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Last Modified: Mar 11, 2020