The Old School Clock
by John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890)
Old memories rush o’er my mind just now
Of faces and friends of the past;
Of that happy time when life’s dream was all bright,
E’er the clear sky of youth was o’ercast.
Very dear are those mem’ries,—they’ve clung round my heart.
And bravely withstood time’s rude shock;
But not one is more hallowed or dear to me now
Than the face of the Old School Clock.
’Twas a quaint old clock with a quaint old face,
And great iron weights and chain;
It stopped when it liked,—and before it struck
It creaked as if ’twere in pain;
It had seen many years, and it seemed to say,
—“I’m one of the real old stock,”
To the youthful fry, who with reverence looked
On the face of the Old School Clock.
How many a time have I labored to sketch
That yellow and time-honored face,
With its basket of flowers, its figures and hands,
And the weights and the chains in their place!
How oft have I gazed with admiring eye.
As I sat on the wooden block.
And pondered and guessed at the wonderful things
That were inside that Old School Clock!
What a terrible frown did the old clock wear
To the truant, who timidly cast
An anxious eye on those merciless hands,
That for him had been moving too fast!
But it lingered not long, for it loved to smile
On the thoughtless, noisy flock,
And it creaked and whirred and struck with glee,—
Did that genial, good-humored old clock.
Well, years had passed, and my mind was filled
With the world, its cares and ways.
When again I stood in that little school
Where I passed my boyhood’s days.
My old friend was gone! and there hung a thing
That my sorrow seemed to mock.
As I gazed with a tear and a softened heart
At a new-fashioned German clock.
’Twas a gaudy thing with bright-painted sides,
And it looked with insolent stare
On the desks and the seats and oh everything old
And I thought of the friendly air—
Of the face that I missed, with its weights and chains,—
All gone to the auctioneer’s block:
’Tis a thing of the past,—never more shall I see
But in mem’ry that Old School Clock.
’Tis the way of the world: old friends pass away.
And fresh faces arise in their stead;
But still ’mid the din and the bustle of life
We cherish fond thoughts of the dead.
Yes, dear are those memories—they’ve cling round my heart,
And bravely withstand Time’s rude shock;
But not one is more dear or more hallowed to me
Than the face of that Old School Clock.