When first I walked to school I had no cares, I yearned to be
in company with those who could recite their ABC.
But I knew no-one there – of staff and pupils just one other
child’s name did I know. He was my elder brother.
We learnt the rule of silence there. We did not talk in class.
Isolated by by the quietness we watched the hours pass.
And yes, I learned and yes, I joined in all the playground games-
but it is hard to play with those who have no names.
I went away to boarding school, away from home and toys.
An adventure that I longed for in the company of boys.
At that new school I learned their names and learned them all too well-
The names of all those boys who, daily, made me walk through Hell.
And sometimes in those days, gripped by my agony and fear
I screamed, and learned the awful truth – The teachers “did not hear”.
I learnt the rule “Thou shalt not tell” and felt the school’s despite
of one who could not “be a man”- who would not stand and fight.
It is easier by far to blame the pupil for his plight,
to close one’s eyes and ears – to pretend that all is right –
than to see and hear the agonies of one, small, lonely boy
who ‘s learnt and is still learning that this life brings little joy.
If only teachers knew the truth. If only teachers cared
to look more deeply then they’d see those pupils who were scared.
So Teacher, do not move through your career as in a dream
but open wide your eyes and hear the oft-times silent scream.
~Schooldays, by Sean O’Donovan