2016 Archives

English professor’s poem about SMU’s Dallas Hall published in Thomas Jefferson-inspired anthology

February 10, 2016

DALLAS (SMU)Fresh off contributing to SMU being named The Most Beautiful Campus in America by the Huffington Post, SMU’s campus centerpiece, Dallas Hall, has inspired a homespun poem that was published Tuesday alongside the works of Pulitzer prize winners in the poetry anthology Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Jefferson (University of Virginia Press).

Willard Spiegelman
Willard Spiegelman

That’s Jefferson as in Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States.

What’s the connection between Dallas Hall and one of America’s founding fathers? It doesn’t take Nicholas Cage and a map hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence to find out.

“When the founders of SMU went to Chicago to find an architect for their first building, they said they wanted Dallas Hall to look like The Rotunda at the University of Virginia (which was designed by Jefferson), but of course bigger,” says SMU Hughes Professor in English Willard Spiegelman. The author of the Dallas Hall-inspired poem explains, “My first thought was, ‘Jefferson went to the prairie.’”

The poem, titled Prairie Rotunda, is one of 50 poems featured in Monticello in Mind. An excerpt is below:

Dallas Hall at SMU

The Monticello ladies politely call him, still,
  “Mister Jefferson,” spokesman for sanity.
    And on north Texas plains, more arid
  than his “little mountain” landscape, we too have
something of his legacy, in stone and Kansas brick.



SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.