Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DOVECOTT MILL: 6. THE SCHOOL, by PHOEBE CARY

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DOVECOTT MILL: 6. THE SCHOOL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Swiftly the seasons sped away
Last Line: Dust to dust, till the judgment day!
Subject(s): Schools; Time; Students

Swiftly the seasons sped away,
And soon to our children came the day
When their life had work as well as play.

When they trudged each morn to the school-house set
Where the winter road and the highway met --
Ah! how plainly I see it yet!

With its noisy play-ground trampled so
By the quick feet, running to and fro,
That not a blade of grass could grow.

And the maple-grove across the road,
The hollow where the cool spring flowed,
And greenly the mint and calamus showed.

And the house -- unpainted, dingy, low,
Shielded a little from sun and snow,
By its three stiff locusts, in a row.

I can see the floor, all dusty and bare,
The benches hacked, the drawings rare
On the walls, and the master's desk and chair:

And himself, not withered, cross, and grim,
But a youth, well-favored, shy, and slim;
More awed by the girls than they by him.

With a poet's eye and a lover's voice,
Unused to the ways of rustic boys,
And shrinking from all rude speech and noise.

Where is he? Where should we find again
The children who played together there?
If alive, sad women and thoughtful men:

Where now is Eleanor proud and fine?
And where is dark-eyed Angivine,
Rebecca, Annie, and Caroline?

And timid Lucy with pale gold hair,
And soft brown eyes that unaware
Drew your heart to her, and held it there?

There was blushing Rose, the beauty and pride
Of her home, and all the country side;
She was the first we loved who died.

And the joy and pride of our life's young years,
The one we loved without doubts or fears,
Alas! to-day he is named with tears.

And Alice, with quiet, thoughtful way
Yet joining always in fun and play,
God knows she is changed enough to-day!

I think of the boy no father claimed,
Of him, a fall from the swing had lamed,
And the girl whose hand in the mill was maimed.

And the lad too sick and sad to play,
Who ceased to come to school one day,
And on the next he had passed away.

And I know the look the master wore
When he told us our mate of the day before
Would never be with us any more!

And how on a grassy slope he was laid --
We could see the place from where we played --
A sight to make young hearts afraid.

Sometimes we went by two and three,
And read on his tombstone thought fully,
"As I am now so you must be."

Brothers with brothers fighting, slain,
From out those school-boys some have lain
Their bones to bleach on the battle-plain.

Some have wandered o'er lands and seas,
Some haply sit in families,
With children's children on their knees.

Some may have gone in sin astray,
Many asleep by their kindred lay,
Dust to dust, till the judgment day!

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