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The Irish Schoolmaster
by [?]


Alack! ’tis melancholy theme to think
How Learning doth in rugged states abide,
And, like her bashful owl, obscurely blink,
In pensive glooms and corners, scarcely spied;
Not, as in Founders’ Halls and domes of pride,
Served with grave homage, like a tragic queen,
But with one lonely priest compell’d to hide,
In midst of foggy moors and mosses green,
In that clay cabin hight the College of Kilreen!


This College looketh South and West alsoe,
Because it hath a cast in windows twain;
Crazy and crack’d they be, and wind doth blow
Through transparent holes in every pane,
Which Pan, with many paines, makes whole again
With nether garments, which his thrift doth teach
To stand for glass, like pronouns, and when rain
Stormeth, he puts, “once more unto the breach,”
Outside and in, tho’ broke, yet so he mendeth each.


And in the midst a little door there is,
Whereon a board that doth congratulate
With painted letters, red as blood I wis,
Thus written,
And oft, indeed, the inward of that gate,
Most ventriloque, doth utter tender squeak,
And moans of infants that bemoan their fate,
In midst of sounds of Latin, French, and Greek,
Which, all i’ the Irish tongue, he teacheth them to speak.


For some are meant to right illegal wrongs,
And some for Doctors of Divinitie,
Whom he doth teach to murder the dead tongues,
And soe win academical degree;
But some are bred for service of the sea,
Howbeit, their store of learning is but small,
For mickle waste he counteth it would be
To stock a head with bookish wares at all,
Only to be knock’d off by ruthless cannon-ball.


Six babes he sways,–some little and some big,
Divided into classes six; alsoe,
He keeps a parlor boarder of a pig,
That in the College fareth to and fro,
And picketh up the urchins’ crumbs below,
And eke the learned rudiments they scan,
And thus his A, B, C, doth wisely know,–
Hereafter to be shown in caravan,
And raise the wonderment of many a learned man.


Alsoe, he schools some tame familiar fowls,
Whereof, above his head, some two or three
Sit darkly squatting, like Minerva’s owls,
But on the branches of no living tree,
And overlook the learned family;
While, sometimes, Partlet, from her gloomy perch,
Drops feather on the nose of Dominie,
Meanwhile, with serious eye, he makes research
In leaves of that sour tree of knowledge–now a birch.


No chair he hath, the awful Pedagogue,
Such as would magisterial hams imbed,
But sitteth lowly on a beechen log,
Secure in high authority and dread:
Large, as a dome for Learning, seems his head,
And, like Apollo’s, all beset with rays,
Because his locks are so unkempt and red,
And stand abroad in many several ways:–
No laurel crown he wears, howbeit his cap is baize.


And, underneath, a pair of shaggy brows
O’erhang as many eyes of gizzard hue,
That inward giblet of a fowl, which shows
A mongrel tint, that is ne brown ne blue;
His nose,–it is a coral to the view;
Well nourish’d with Pierian Potheen,–
For much he loves his native mountain dew;–
But to depict the dye would lack, I ween,
A bottle-red, in terms, as well as bottle-green.


As for his coat, ’tis such a jerkin short
As Spenser had, ere he composed his Tales;
But underneath he hath no vest, nor aught,
So that the wind his airy breast assails;
Below, he wears the nether garb of males,
Of crimson plush, but non-plushed at the knee;–
Thence further down the native red prevails,
Of his own naked fleecy hosierie:–
Two sandals, without soles, complete his cap-a-pie.