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Spirit Of The Everlasting Boy
by [?]


June 11, 1910


The British bard who looked on Eton’s walls,
Endeared by distance in the pearly gray
And soft aerial blue that ever falls
On English landscape with the dying day,
Beheld in thought his boyhood far away,
Its random raptures and its festivals
Of noisy mirth,
The brief illusion of its idle joys,
And mourned that none of these can stay
With men, whom life inexorably calls
To face the grim realities of earth.
His pensive fancy pictured there at play
From year to year the careless bands of boys,
Unconscious victims kept in golden state,
While haply they await
The dark approach of disenchanting Fate,
To hale them to the sacrifice
Of Pain and Penury and Grief and Care,
Slow-withering Age, or Failure’s swift despair.
Half-pity and half-envy dimmed the eyes
Of that old poet, gazing on the scene
Where long ago his youth had flowed serene,
And all the burden of his ode was this:
“Where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.”


But not for us, O plaintive elegist,
Thine epicedial tone of sad farewell
To joy in wisdom and to thought in youth!
Our western Muse would keep her tryst
With sunrise, not with sunset, and foretell
In boyhood’s bliss the dawn of manhood’s truth.


O spirit of the everlasting boy,
Alert, elate,
And confident that life is good,
Thou knockest boldly at the gate,
In hopeful hardihood,
Eager to enter and enjoy
Thy new estate.

Through the old house thou runnest everywhere,
Bringing a breath of folly and fresh air.
Ready to make a treasure of each toy,
Or break them all in discontented mood;
Fearless of Fate,
Yet strangely fearful of a comrade’s laugh;
Reckless and timid, hard and sensitive;
In talk a rebel, full of mocking chaff,
At heart devout conservative;
In love with love, yet hating to be kissed;
Inveterate optimist,
And judge severe,
In reason cloudy but in feeling clear;
Keen critic, ardent hero-worshipper,
Impatient of restraint in little ways,
Yet ever ready to confer
On chosen leaders boundless power and praise;
Adventurous spirit burning to explore
Untrodden paths where hidden danger lies,
And homesick heart looking with wistful eyes
Through every twilight to a mother’s door;
Thou daring, darling, inconsistent boy,
How dull the world would be
Without thy presence, dear barbarian,
And happy lord of high futurity!
Be what thou art, our trouble and our joy,
Our hardest problem and our brightest hope!
And while thine elders lead thee up the slope
Of knowledge, let them learn from teaching thee
That vital joy is part of nature’s plan,
And he who keeps the spirit of the boy
Shall gladly grow to be a happy man.


What constitutes a school?
Not ancient halls and ivy-mantled towers,
Where dull traditions rule
With heavy hand youth’s lightly springing powers;
Not spacious pleasure courts,
And lofty temples of athletic fame,
Where devotees of sports
Mistake a pastime for life’s highest aim;
Not fashion, nor renown
Of wealthy patronage and rich estate;
No, none of these can crown
A school with light and make it truly great.
But masters, strong and wise,
Who teach because they love the teacher’s task,
And find their richest prize
In eyes that open and in minds that ask;
And boys, with heart aglow
To try their youthful vigour on their work,
Eager to learn and grow,
And quick to hate a coward or a shirk:
These constitute a school,–
A vital forge of weapons keen and bright,
Where living sword and tool
Are tempered for true toil or noble fight!
But let not wisdom scorn
The hours of pleasure in the playing fields:
There also strength is born,
And every manly game a virtue yields.
Fairness and self-control,
Good-humour, pluck, and patience in the race,
Will make a lad heart-whole
To win with honour, lose without disgrace.
Ah, well for him who gains
In such a school apprenticeship to life:
With him the joy of youth remains
In later lessons and in larger strife!