Sowerby's Retiring Schoolmaster

Poem by

Levi Haigh

Sowerby's retiring schoolmaster – Coun. J. T, NAYLOR J.P.

Lines read at the Farewell Meeting held in the Sowerby National School January 11th, 1912.

As I think of this old village,
   Which a lifetime  I have known,
There is nothing in its quaintness
   That I am ashamed to own,
But a many things about it,
   Over which I long could dwell.
Though, of only one among them,
   I, at present, wish to tell.

Not of narrow streets and winding,
   Not of chapel nor of church;
Not of curious nooks and corners,
   For which many often search;
Not of homely men and women,
   Not of youths and maidens fair,
Nor of children, as they journey
   To that day-school over there.

Yet, those children I will follow
   To that school. for well I know
'Tis the one which I attended
   in the days of long-ago;
And whenever I remember
   Things that happened when a boy,
There arise peculiar feelings,
   Mixed with pathos and with joy.

In that school are many changes,
   For there is not one to-day
Who was wont to sit at lessons
   And with whom I used to play.
Boys and girls they are no longer,
   Full of pleasure, free from care,
But have grown to men and women.
   Doing service everywhere.

Not a master, not a mistress,
   Nor a teacher there I see
Who was there when we were scholars:
   They have left it too like me:
But among the staff at present.
   All of whom I much esteem,
There is one I wish to honour,
   In this poem, as my theme.

'Tis the master, now resigning,
   He has laboured long and well,
Six and thirty years of service – 
   Who will try its worth to tell?
None can measure all the power
   And regard which he has won,
Nor can tabulate the blessings
   Of the work that he has done.

When I think of all the scholars
   Who have passed beneath his care,
Needing guidance and instruction
   For their life-work to prepare;
Then I see the great importance
   Of the work which he has done:
Training others on the threshold
   Of the race which they must run.

When I think that every scholar
   Has a free unbiassed mind,
Ever open and receptive
   To whatever it may find,
Then I see the fine advantage
   All instructors must possess,
To instill in those around them
   Things that tend to usefulness.

In the virgin soil of childhood,
   Seeds may easily be cast,
And the plants be seen appearing
   While their rootlets deepen fast;
But the fruits, whene'er they ripen
   In those scholars' after-days.
Will reveal the teacher's failure,
   Or contribute to his praise.

Poetry by Levi Haigh

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 11:09 / 28th May 2021 / 4427

Page Ref: LH_10

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