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School Poems: Poetry for the First Day of School

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Poetry

School and poetry go hand in hand. Education is (or at least should be) an important part of everyone's lives. And poetry is a great way to learn. The rhythm, the rhymes, and even alliterations and metaphors allow school children to become interested in the subject at hand.

Literature as a whole is a great way to learn more about society, history, and culture.

Nonetheless, these poems aren't necessarily about learning; they are about school in general. So read on and enjoy some of the best poets in history thoughts about a place we have all been: school!

The top 10 poems about school:

10. Among School Children by William Butler Yeats
9. The Country Schoolmaster by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

8. Orphan School by Robert William Service

Full fifty merry maids I heard
One summer morn a-singing;
And each was like a joyous bird
With spring-clear not a-ringing.
It was an old-time soldier song
That held their happy voices:
Oh how it's good to swing along
When youth rejoices!
Then lo! I dreamed long years had gone,
They passed again ungladly.
Their backs were bent, their cheeks were wan,
Their eyes were staring sadly.
Their ranks were thinned by full a score
From death's remorseless reaping
Their steps were slow, they sang no more,–
Nay, some were weeping.
Dark dream! I saw my maids today
Singing so innocently;
Their eyes with happiness were gay,
They looked at me so gently.
Thought I: Be merry in your youth
With hearts unrueing:
Thank God you do not know the truth
Of Life's Undoing!

7. The Schoolboy by William Blake
6. An Old Man's Thought of School by Walt Whitman
5. The Schoolfellow by Sir Henry Newbolt

Our game was his but yesteryear;
We wished him back; we could not know
The self-same hour we missed him here
He led the line that broke the foe. 
Blood-red behind our guarded posts
Sank as of old and dying day;
The battle ceased; the mingled hosts
Weary and cheery went their way: 
"To-morrow well may bring," we said,
"As fair a fight, as clear a sun."
Dear Lad, before the world was sped,
For evermore thy goal was won.

4. The Old Bark School by Henry Lawson

It was built of bark and poles, and the floor was full of holes
Where each leak in rainy weather made a pool;
And the walls were mostly cracks lined with calico and sacks--
There was little need for windows in the school. 
Then we rode to school and back by the rugged gully-track,
On the old grey horse that carried three or four;
And he looked so very wise that he lit the master's eyes
Every time he put his head in at the door. 
He had run with Cobb and Co.-- "that grey leader, let him go!"
There were men "as knowed the brand upon his hide",
And "as knowed it on the course". Funeral service: "Good old horse!"
When we burnt him in the gully where he died. 
And the master thought the same. ‘Twas from Ireland that he came,
Where the tanks are full all summer, and the feed is simply grand;
And the joker then in vogue said his lessons wid a brogue--
‘Twas unconscious imitation, let the reader understand. 
And we learnt the world in scraps from some ancient dingy maps
Long discarded by the public-schools in town;
And as nearly every book dated back to Captain Cook
Our geography was somewhat upside-down. 
It was "in the book" and so-- well, at that we'd let it go,
For we never would believe that print could lie;
And we all learnt pretty soon that when we came out at noon
"The sun is in the south part of the sky." 
And Ireland! that was known from the coast-line to Athlone:
We got little information re the land that gave us birth;
Save that Captain Cook was killed (and was very likely grilled)
And "the natives of New Holland are the lowest race on earth". 
And a woodcut, in its place, of the same degraded race
Seemed a lot more like a camel than the blackfellows that we knew;
Jimmy Bullock, with the rest, scratched his head and gave it best;
But his faith was sadly shaken by a bobtailed kangaroo. 
But the old bark school is gone, and the spot it stood upon
Is a cattle-camp in winter where the curlew's cry is heard;
There's a brick school on the flat, but a schoolmate teaches that,
For, about the time they built it, our old master was "transferred". 
But the bark school comes again with exchanges ‘cross the plain--
With the Out-Back Advertiser; and my fancy roams at large
When I read of passing stock, of a western mob or flock,
With "James Bullock", "Grey", or "Henry Dale" in charge. 
And I think how Jimmy went from the old bark school content,
With his "eddication" finished, with his pack-horse after him;
And perhaps if I were back I would take the self-same track,
For I wish my learning ended when the Master "finished" Jim.

3. The Latest School by G.K. Chesterton

See the flying French depart
Like the bees of Bonaparte,
Swarming up with a most venomous vitality.
Over Baden and Bavaria,
And Brighton and Bulgaria,
Thus violating Belgian neutrality.
And the injured Prussian may
Not unreasonably say
"Why, it cannot be so small a nationality
Since Brixton and Batavia,
Bolivia and Belgravia,
Are bursting with the Belgian neutrality."
By pure Alliteration
You may trace this curious nation,
And respect this somewhat scattered Principality;
When you see a B in Both
You may take your Bible oath
You are violating Belgian neutrality.

2. Two Schools by Henry Van Dyke

I put my heart to school
In the world, where men grow wise,
"Go out," I said, "and learn the rule;
Come back when you win a prize."
My heart came back again:
"Now where is the prize?" I cried. —-
"The rule was false, and the prize was pain,
And the teacher's name was Pride."
I put my heart to school
In the woods, where veeries sing,
And brooks run cool and clear;
In the fields, where wild flowers spring,
And the blue of heaven bends near.
"Go out," I said: "you are half a fool,
But perhaps they can teach you here."
"And why do you stay so long,
My heart, and where do you roam?"
The answer came with a laugh and a song, —
"I find this school is home."

1. The School In August by Philip Larkin

The cloakroom pegs are empty now,
And locked the classroom door,
The hollow desks are lined with dust,
And slow across the floor
A sunbeam creeps between the chairs
Till the sun shines no more.
Who did their hair before this glass?
Who scratched ‘Elaine loves Jill'
One drowsy summer sewing-class
With scissors on the sill?
Who practised this piano
Whose notes are now so still?
Ah, notices are taken down,
And scorebooks stowed away,
And seniors grow tomorrow
From the juniors today,
And even swimming groups can fade,
Games mistresses turn grey.