Schooldays were centred round the tallest spire
In England, whose chime-pealing ruled our lives,
Spent in the confines of a leafy Close:
Chimes that controlled the hours we spent in singing,
Entered the classrooms to restrict our lessons
And punctuated the half-times of games.

The gravel courtyard where we played rough games
During the early break or after singing
In the Cathedral circled by the Close
And dominated by its soaring spire
Saw many minor dramas of our lives.
Such playgrounds predetermine later lessons.

Daily dividing services, meals, lessons,
Musical time resounded through the Close,
Metered existence like the rules of games.
What single cord connects most schoolboys’ lives?
Not many consist first of stints of singing.
Our choral rearing paralleled a spire.

Reaching fourteen within sight of that spire
Unconsciously defined our growing lives,
As music’s discipline informed our lessons.
We grew aware of how all round the Close
Households were run on lines that like our singing
Were regulated as communal games.

We sensed the serious need for fun and games,
What funny folk can populate a Close.
We relished festive meals as we did singing.
Beauty of buildings balanced boring lessons.
We looked relieved at times up at the spire
Balanced serene above parochial lives.

Grubby and trivial though our schoolboy lives
Were as all are, we found in singing
That liberation and delight result from lessons.

Under the ageless aegis of the spire
Seasonal feasts were ever-renewed games.
Box-hedges, limes and lawns line Sarum Close.

Choristers in that Close lead lucky lives.
They are taught by a spire and learn through singing
That hard lessons can be enjoyed like games.


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