Shrewsbury School

'To the School at War'

 A poem by Rev C.A. Alington

The poem below was written in December 1914 by the then Headmaster, Rev. C.A. Alington. As well as a good number of hymns still sung today, he wrote the School Song in impeccable Latin (it is said, within the space of a single morning). But this, surely, must rank among the most poignant of his verses, dedicated as they are to the boys and masters he knew so well.

To the School at War
We don’t forget – while in this dark December
We sit in schoolrooms that you know so well,
And hear the sounds that you so well remember –
The clock, the hurrying feet, the Chapel bell:
Others are sitting in the seats you sat in;
There’s nothing else seems altered here – and yet
Through all of it, the same old Greek and Latin,
    You know we don’t forget.

We don’t forget you – in the wintry weather
You man the trench or tramp the frozen snow;
We play the games we used to play together
In days of peace that seem so long ago;
But through it all, the shouting and the cheering,
Those other hosts in graver conflict met,
Those other sadder sounds your ears are hearing
    Be sure we don’t forget.

And you, our brothers, who for all our praying,
To this dear school of ours come back no more,
Who lie, our country’s debt of honour paying –
And not in vain – upon the Belgian shore;
Till that great day when at the Throne in Heaven
The books are opened and the Judgment set,
Your lives for honour and for England given
    The School will not forget.


First published in The Times; reproduced in The Salopian, December 1914.

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