Farewell to Wigan Grammar School
God help us if all Grammar Schools are lost
to dumbing down and mediocrity.
In them we learned exactly who we were,
saw how we followed great men of the past
and could ourselves become a pattern for
more generations still to come. There is
no town throughout this land whose people have
not prospered from the influence of such schools
that have, by teaching Greek and Latin and
the Arts, with strict observance to a set of
rules, engendered understanding of the
past, our language, laws and rational thought.
If we are all that we have ever been,
our destiny to be the total sum
of our experiences in greater part
or less, then there is something of the school
still part of me, determines how I act,
or speak, or think. Perhaps my raising of
an eyebrow when a word is said, or when
some long forgotten fragrance strikes a chord
of memory from that Cinderella sense.
Then for a moment I am lost amongst
the faces of the past, the billowing gowns
that vampire like swept chattering boys
aside along the corridors, brief mischief
as we waited to be taught, strict silence when
the door was closed and homework handed in
or some returned with 'excellent' or 'poor'
in scarlet ink. Now fifty years have passed
since I slipped quietly away, too sad
to broadcast my farewell to all the world
yet filled with gratitude for all I gained
from long remembered Wigan Grammar School.
The buildings still remain, though teaching's voice
is silent now, and echoes of the past
no longer fall from wall to muted wall.
No longer breathes the body corporate
that was the school I knew, for long ago,
destroyed by fears of inequality,
its soul was lost as piece by petty piece
the edifice was chipped away until a
different school was born, though still
the shell stood firm. Today, now even that
has changed in deference to the N.H.S.
where emphasis has changed from intellect
and excellence matched with a virile strength
to bandages and swabs and sterile rooms.
So now I hear no more the Babel sounds
of school boys running wild about the quad
as they once did close on four hundred years.
Instead, broad ranks of cars now park in rows
where once I heard those voices echoing.
David Lythgoe -2004