[Editor: This poem by Norman L. Beurle was published in The Weekly Times (Melbourne), 12 May 1900.]
(To my old scholars.)
Away in the city, years ago,
I made me friends of the boys and girls;
I warmed my heart in the golden glow
Of smiling faces and sunny curls.
Away from the city — far away,
I trod the pathway that God decreed;
But ever the echo of children’s play
Came to my heart in its hour of need.
Away in the city, a week ago,
I sought the boys and the girls once more;
But all the faces I used to know
Had passed for aye from the old school door.
My heart was sad and my eyes were wet
For the dear young faces of olden days,
Till a voice said, “Brother, you forget!
Go seek them out in the world’s wide ways.”
Away in the city, there, at last,
I found the children — and one was tall
And strong as the poplar that mocks the blast,
From its home beyond the orchard wall.
And one was grand in her pure-souled truth,
And scorned the evil and loved the right;
While one, from a shadow’d and crippl’d youth,
Had cast around him a gleaming light.
And one was preaching with face aglow,
The wondrous story of Love divine;
And one, by the side of a sick bed low,
Was pouring her treasures of oil and wine.
And one was guiding, with tender hand,
The frail, wee feet of a little child,
And pointing the way to the Promised Land,
The home of the gentle and undefiled.
And one I missed, for he stands to-day
Beneath the colors we love so well,
On Afric’s veldt, and I, kneeling, pray
“God keep him safe from the shot and shell!”
And one I found not. One summer night,
She said “Good-bye” to the old class room,
To wait for us in the clearer light,
To beckon us on through the darker gloom.
O, laughing faces and gleaming eyes!
My heart would greet you from far away,
And listen and wait for your sweet replies,
And gain new strength from the prayers ye pray.
Away in the City, bright and fair,
Our paths shall meet at the Master’s throne;
And you and I shall be scholars there
Till all the lessons of Love are known.
NORMAN L. BEURLE.
The Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic.), 12 May 1900, p. 13
Afric = Africa
aye = always, forever
the colors = a national flag; in the context of the British Empire, the Union Flag (also known as the Union Jack); a military banner or flag; a ship’s flag; an identifying flag or uniform
Master = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to Jesus or God
Promised Land = a place, state or condition which is believed to provide much happiness, fulfillment, success, a better life, or the realisation of hopes; Heaven; in a Biblical context, the land of Canaan
veldt = plains of southern Africa; open country, grassland with few bushes or trees
wee = little, very small, diminutive (can also mean: very early, e.g. “the wee hours of the morning”)
Old words/spelling in the original text:
Vernacular spelling in the original text: