Song of the Puzzled Pedagogue by C.J. Dennis

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The President of the Victorian Teachers' Union declared recently that teachers were a legion of the lost, singing in rather a pathetic way. "We are going down to hell with the drums playing." There was much talk of ensuring that square pegs should not be fitted to round holes: but were square holes available for square pegs? Education required sympathetic insight and wise leadership.

They leave it in these hands of ours to shape a nation's soul;
   But we're marching, marching down below.
For we haven't got a leader and we haven't got a goal.
   And we haven't, no we haven't got a show.... 
Eleven eights are eighty-eight.  And what should Alfred do?
And was he wrong to burn the cakes, or was the dame a shrew?
   Johnny Jones, hold out your hand!  My lad, you must be bossed!
   Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  We're the legion of the lost.

We've got the drums to pummel, but we haven't got a flag;
   And we're marching, marching to the pit.
For there's none to lead us upward, and we loiter and we lag.
   And there's no one seems to care a little bit....
Now, the square of the hypothenuse -- Sam Smith, stand out of class!
Oh, I've coached you, I've reproached you.  Must you always be an ass?
   You're growing up a gump, my lad; but do you count the cost?
   Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  We're the legion of the lost.

They leave to us the fashioning of citizens to come;
   But we're marching, marching ever down;
But the guiding voice of politics is pitifully dumb,
   And potential leaders leave us here to drown....
Now, consider Kings of England, or consider capes of Spain,
Consider -- Silence, Smithers!  Must I speak to you again?
   We'll take the Latin lesson now.  That's sure to be a frost.
   Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  We're the legion of the lost.

Square holes will not accommodate round pegs, and never would --
   Oh, we're marching, marching to the drum --
And the dull, defeatist attitude was never any good....
   But -- horror!  What a thought is this to come!
Supposing that our attitude the vital question begs?
Supposing that the hole we're in is square, and we round pegs?
   Nay, lift the dirge and bang the drum!  Our creed must not be crossed!
   Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  We're the legion of the lost.

First published in The Herald, 24 January 1935

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 24, 2013 8:09 AM.

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