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Ageing Schoolmaster

 And now another autumn morning finds me
With chalk dust on my sleeve and in my breath,
Preoccupied with vague, habitual speculation
On the huge inevitability of death.
Not wholly wretched, yet knowing absolutely That I shall never reacquaint myself with joy, I sniff the smell of ink and chalk and my mortality And think of when I rolled, a gormless boy, And rollicked round the playground of my hours, And wonder when precisely tolled the bell Which summoned me from summer liberties And brought me to this chill autumnal cell From which I gaze upon the april faces That gleam before me, like apples ranged on shelves, And yet I feel no pinch or prick of envy Nor would I have them know their sentenced selves.
With careful effort I can separate the faces, The dull, the clever, the various shapes and sizes, But in the autumn shades I find I only Brood upon death, who carries off all the prizes.

Poem by Vernon Scannell
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