A tall donnish schoolmaster enters the gate
only a little late, dismounts
with a certain characteristic style
steering between the other master’s cars
He holds both bars and stomps,
observed by some third form boys, behind
the staffroom, past the prefect’s den
and parks his velociped in the cycle shed.
Allons enfants! We foregather before him
in serried desks- pupils in pupitres.
and listen to his high voice entreating us
to sing a folk song about a peasant soup.
Pacing the long dias by the grand piano
he encouraged us to belt ’em out. Pronunciation
rather than grammar was his choice forte.
We embraced “Auprès de ma blonde
“Qu’il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon.“, the
Marseillaise and Sous le pont d’avignon
The lyrics he swiftly chalked above
the staves on the board in the Music Room.
Thinking back, he may have been batered
by the War and tough times along
with the Chinese Inland Mission.
Appearing himself like a cross between Ho Chi Min
and Ezra Pound.
Even then I thought he may not
have fitted in with the other masters
being deemed eccentric he would not have minded
entirely blinded to such bourgeois mores.
“China Reconstructs” tucked under his arm
and head full of ideograms, I wonder
just what I might still learn from him now.