[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in The Parish of St Mel’s and Other Verses, 1954.]
The Kids in the School
As I look through the school in the morning
I intrude on the youngsters at work
With grave faces all levity scorning,
But I am proud of the mischiefs that lurk
In a roguish grey eye or a dimple
Or a shy little smile which imparts
That I hold in my keeping the simple
Pure trust of their hearts.
Yes, I want it today for tomorrow,
And God grant I shall keep it for aye;
There’ll be doubts and heart-scaldings and sorrow
Where are laughter and sunshine today;
To dispose them-my worthwhile endeavour —
In the lift of the soul or the drag,
So they’ll stick to their colours whatever
And march with the flag.
Then, when done with the lessons assorted,
They escape from the classroom to me,
And I march round the corner escorted
By the flanks of an army to be.
So I care not a fig for the arts of
The decoys who misteach and misrule
If I’m holding the hands and the hearts of
The Kids in the School.
John O’Brien. The Parish of St Mel’s and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1954
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