Andrew Barton Paterson ('Banjo')

Here you will find the Poem Old Schooldays of poet Andrew Barton Paterson ('Banjo')

Old Schooldays

Awake, of Muse, the echoes of a day 
Long past, the ghosts of mem'ries manifold -- 
Youth's memories that once were green and gold 
But now, alas, are grim and ashen grey. 
The drowsy schoolboy wakened up from sleep, 
First stays his system with substantial food, 
Then off for school with tasks half understood, 
Alas, alas, that cribs should be so cheap! 

The journey down to town -- 'twere long to tell 
The storm and riot of the rabble rout; 
The wild Walpurgis revel in and out 
That made the ferry boat a floating hell. 

What time the captive locusts fairly roared: 
And bulldog ants, made stingless with a knife, 
Climbed up the seats and scared the very life 
From timid folk, who near jumped overboard. 

The hours of lessons -- hours with feet of clay 
Each hour a day, each day more like a week: 
While hapless urchins heard with blanched cheek 
The words of doom "Come in on Saturday". 

The master gowned and spectacled, precise, 
Trying to rule by methods firm and kind 
But always just a little bit behind 
The latest villainy, the last device, 

Born of some smoothfaced urchin's fertile brain 
To irritate the hapless pedagogue, 
And first involve him in a mental fog 
Then "have" him with the same old tale again. 

The "bogus" fight that brought the sergeant down 
To that dark corner by the old brick wall, 
Where mimic combat and theatric brawl 
Made noise enough to terrify the town. 

But on wet days the fray was genuine, 
When small boys pushed each other in the mud 
And fought in silence till thin streams of blood 
Their dirty faces would incarnadine. 

The football match or practice in the park 
With rampant hoodlums joining in the game 
Till on one famous holiday there came 
A gang that seized the football for a lark. 

Then raged the combat without rest or pause, 
Till one, a hero, Hawkins unafraid 
Regained the ball, and later on displayed 
His nose knocked sideways in his country's cause. 

Before the mind quaint visions rise and fall, 
Old jokes, old students dead and gone: 
And some that lead us still, while some toil on 
As rank and file, but "Grammar" children all. 

And he, the pilot, who has laid the course 
For all to steer by, honest, unafraid -- 
Truth is his beacon light, so he has made 
The name of the old School a living force.