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At School

by John Boyle O'Reilly

The bees are in the meadow,
And the swallows in the sky;
The cattle in the shadow
Watch the river running by.
The wheat is hardly stirring;
The heavy ox-team lags;
The dragon-fly is whirring
Through the yellow-blossomed flags.

And down beside the river,
Where the trees lean o’er the pool,
Where the shadows reach and quiver,
A boy has come to school.
His teachers are the swallows
And the river and the trees;
His lessons are the shallows
And the flowers and the bees.

He sees the fly-wave on the stream,
The otter steal along,
The red-gilled, slow, deep-sided bream,
He knows the mating-song.
The chirping green-fly on the grass
Accepts his comrade meet;
The small gray rabbits fearless pass;
The birds light at his feet.

He knows not he is learning;
He thinks nor writes a word;
But in the soul discerning
A living spring is stirred.

In after years—O, weary years!
The river’s lesson, he
Will try to speak to heedless ears
In faltering minstrelsy!

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