They stood, no more to welcome youth, in wretched isolation,
Yet, if they had the power of speech they’d speak of the occasions
Of what they’d seen in countless years of youngsters passing through
Their arch, proclaiming to those boys, a life starting anew.
A life of learning to succeed in chosen skilled vocations
Acquiring wisdom as they learned, with wit and toleration;
Toleration, discipline, that transformed men from boys
Who went into the adult world with confidence and poise.
Those gates which welcomed all into exclusive brotherhood
Would tell tales of events that changed the world for bad or good,
Of grief and sadness, joy and laughter, through the years gone by,
Yet keeping the remembrance of a spirit time defies.
We’d hear of Commandants departures, towed by cheering lads,
Of Sergeant Majors of all kinds, the good ones and the bad.
Their barked commands for all to hear, across the old school square
The sound of bugles, pipes and drums, hanging in the air.
They’d mention how they opened to admit the parents so
They’d see how sons had fared from leaving home and how they’d grown
Into those robust, healthy soldiers, disciplined and smart,
Making fathers proud and stealing all the female hearts.
Yet they were of their time, and had succumbed to time’s progression,
And now they are no more in that inexorable succession,
But in the minds of those who passed between those gates so young
They’ll be there, indestructible, till all that knew are gone.