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The Village Schoolmaster

Posted Aug 09 2009 10:33pm



Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way
With blossom'd furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his little school;
A man severe he was, and stern to view,
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace
The days disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd:
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declar'd how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too:
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And e'en the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill,
For e'en though vanquish'd he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound
Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around;
And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumph'd is forgot.

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Comments

1 - 5 of 5
  • the village school master

    From guest Joy Luke ( contact )
    I had cared for a an Irish Nun for 2 1/2 years. She was 99 years of age, who recently died. At her funeral they reminiscenced about her life. It was mentioned that Sr remembered by heart & loved this poem plus another one called 'Grey's elegy in the church yard'. She was self educated and became a teacher here in Australia. Possibly her love for this poem may have represented part of her self. For me, reminds me of an old teacher I use to have & loved.
    MOD MESSAGE
    I think this  http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/4193-Thomas-Gray-Elegy-Written-in-a-Country-Churchyar  is the other poem you mentioned that the sister liked.
  • The Village Schoolmaster

    From guest Von Garro ( contact )
    Hi, I think(if my dwindling memory serves me correctly!) that it should be "noisy mansion".
  • The Village Schoolmaster

    From guest Von Garro ( contact )
    I learned this poem in school in Ireland, by heart (verbatim) when I was 8 years old. I still can't see a furze bush without thinking of it, 40 years later!Such a clever phrase "blossomed furze, unprofitably gay" and such a lovely way to describe a wild thorny bush that is so taken for granted where I live.
  • refreshes old thoughts

    From guest nazmeen ( contact )
    wonderful to recolect memories of my school life loved d way he hgas writen it ossom .a big thank u
  • The Village School Master

    From guest Dr. B. ILANGO ( contact )
    I have read this poetry as a young boy; I still read it as a 70-year old retired Vice-Chancellor! The lines of Goldsmith endure the ecstasy for their diction and poesy and continue to inspire students and teachers alike, all over the world. The words 'he could write and cipher too' emphasize the desideratum of the day, namely, the importance of communication skills and analytical skills. Dr. B. ILANGO

  • July 25, 2008
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    From guest Santanu Chakrabarty ( contact )
    Today at the age of 49 I still find how relevant the Goldsmith's description of school teacher is. Yesterday's caning appears so nostalgic today: perhaps the teachers then wanted to develop their students. May be the meaning amiss today.

  • July 9, 2007
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    The Village Schoolmaster

    From guest Pratap N. Mathur ( contact )
    I remember this poem from my Grade VIII, in the Year 1933. It was in the Government High School, of Fatehgarh, a dusty little town in the plains of north India. Mr. Rao was our English Teacher, and fitted Goldsmith's dscription of the Village Schoolmaster, to a tee! We used to laugh and giggle at the thought! He used to enter the classroom, cane in hand, swishing it severely up and down, till it hummed! He was a big, fat man, with a Rajputi moustache, and always sported a fierce visage! Quite the figure of terror was he! Even so, in all fairness, let it be said, that in all his 2 years - Grades VII & VIII - that he taught us, he used the cane to give us of its best, only a few times! Just like in the poem, we could tell when that was going to be! We could trace the 'day's disasters in his morning face'! He later fell sick of one of the many afflictions that plagued India in those days. There were no antibiotics then. I saw him slowly shrivel and grow weak. I hope he recovered, but I never knew, since my father, in govenment service, was transferred, and we moved to another town where I joined Grade IX. P.S. In our school version, the line "For e'en though vanquish'd, he could argue still" appeared in a simpler form: "For, though defeated, he could argue still!" And personally, I rather fancy my old school version as the better of the two!

  • April 24, 2007
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    beautiful

    From guest apurva ( contact )
    Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around; And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew, That one small head could carry all he knew. these lines are very amazing.

  • April 24, 2007
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    amazing

    From guest apurva ( contact )
    this poem is just amazing. its a poem where we come to know about the strict techers. we know the reason that why they are so strict at times.hence its a poem which should be read by everybody.

  • March 14, 2007
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    The poem

    From guest Polly ( contact )
    i am studying this for GCSE english and i think it is a lovely poem. three lines of it are on my papa's grave: The days disasters in his morning face; Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee, At all his jokes, for many a joke had he: it is him to a T, it makes me feel like i know him again even though he dies so long ago.

  • February 20, 2007
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    What should be done?

    From guest Raina ( contact )
    Goldsmith's idea of a VILLAGE Schoolmaster is engaging.I reall think what should be done to arouse such a feeling in modern students?

  • February 19, 2007
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    The poem

    From guest Julie ( contact )
    I love this poem

  • February 1, 2007
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    Error

    From guest Mick King ( contact )
    The line eight from bottom should read: "In arguing too, the Parson own'd his skill,"
  • pankaja
    February 1, 2007

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    The village schoolmaster

    It is more prosaic. Though the contents are engaging, poetry is somewhat outmoded. Ofcourse,interesting to read once.
    Nuggehalli Pankaja
  • There were remnants of teachers such as this when I as a child went to school. There was no reverence as such but definite fear and/or respect for school teachers. We did as we were instructed or cop the punishment.So many times I was happy NOT to be a boy. However after having left school and today 40+ years on I remember some of my teachers with an unexplainable fondness and respect. Something I feel the modern students will not feel as their lives progress.
    Goldsmith lived in a time when most people of 'position' were revered by the working masses regardless of their input into society, that can still be said of modern times though.
    Von

  • December 22, 2006
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    the man

    From guest charley long ( contact )
    what a beautiful mind

  • October 31, 2006
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    From guest kd ( contact )
    This poem is a classic that should be carried down through the years. I learnt it as a student in school and I still believe that is a description of my school headmaster at the time.
  • And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew,
    That one small head could carry all he knew.

    Unfortunately not a phrase I used much in all my years of teaching.

    Goldsmith has captured the times when a teacher was a person to reckon with in a village. A multi-faceted person rather than the specialists we pedagogues have become.





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