The Red and the White
The Red and the White
For Ipswich Grammar School
1863 – 1913
Wars topped and tailed our history like two children
Sharing a bed to keep winter’s unmoved breath at bay.
One was fought over the freedom of men; our first
Students’ fingers smudged black with newspaper ink
As they broke military faith with their lunch bread.
The other, their grandchildren would fight through,
Only pausing in some broken, muddy advance to
Wonder at what they were battling for; their school
Pride transformed into a love of nation, a care for
Comrades too heart-stricken by the heat of war.
Warrior-scholars who led men against ignorance,
Who soothed boys of their fears, who questioned
Hamlet’s resolute silence. Snatches of Latin phrase
Labore et Honore.
An Ipswich renaissance; the gothic revival bricks
Were laid by local workers whose sons would later
Stride Queensland’s first grammar hall. More than
Just the city’s industrial genesis limestone, poured
Into the mortar; the Great Hall’s foundations laid
With hope. Education is the eternal time capsule
Which the future opens. The pounds raised from
Rich and common folk paid back a thousand fold,
As the new state invested in centuries long learning.
Our tower was the first torch of wisdom held aloft,
Its flames burned away privilege; the right to school
Universal. We are the strong hand of knowledge
Who passes on the mace; that holds truth’s trophy up.
We are those who pull on the red and the white.
1913 – 1963
Both wars took our best. Our captains needed
To test their edge as though their minds were
A sword honed to razor sharpness. Europe’s
Poppy fields paraded their metal, as crimson
Blooms decorated boyish chests. Or, from
God-like heights an Old Boy’s slow release
Of breath was the signal for his pregnant bomber
To crown Armageddon’s birth. Sometimes,
Truth’s blade was a sword of Damocles which
Hung over wisdom’s head.When it fell by wars’
End, ideals of civilisation lay shattered like so
When numbers took on a new significance and
Language was transcribed with chaos’s pen.
Though its fire burned low post-war, our torch
Never gutted out; a solid base had been crafted
And as the world modernised so did contemporary
Thought. Men and women arrived to rebuild respect;
They breathed on the school’s smouldering embers
And fanned new life. One, Matron Fox came mid-war
And stayed on. For three decades she healed the wounds
The world threw at her boys; whether from war, sport
Or unrequited love. Her heart, steady as the school’s
Foundation stone, on which students tested their
Self-esteem and more than often, won. Another, inspired
By his vaulted schooling, watched the masters hook
Their gowns over wooden coathangers; the high arches
Of his youth propelling his vision to engineer steel icons.
1963 – 2013
Once, an ancient education was spruiked here,
Inside the woodland classroom, before even
A red brick was slung; lessons of fire-hardened
Spear beneath sun-speckled eucalypt were given.
A century on, our first people returned; Les Bunda
Threaded through the defence on Maud-Kerr oval,
His feet writing on the green page where his ancestors’
Stories were woven. Each season, more boys alighted
On the castle on the hill; at winter’s end the throaty
Cackles of Channel-billed Cuckoos or a Dollarbird’s
Silver coins led them. PNG lads, who like feathered
Migrants, left their highland homes and landed on our
New battlement. If school is the airspeed of thought;
Then both bird and boy flew an incredible distance.
The 1863 brass plaque has been rubbed mirror bright
As the seniors brush over it on their way to the quad.
Every student’s shoe adds a little more buff. Warm
To the touch; a yellow sun, it has captured thousands
Of souls in its historical pull. School bonds are gravity
Strong, as the tug of war rope that coils snake patient,
Waiting annually to be won. Or a cheek-plate of bronze
Armour forged from the pages of Homer. Our school is
A victory cup; a sacred vessel where the ‘Milk of human
Kindness will not go sour from neglect.’ And the bell that
Sounds off each generation is a sanctuary’s gong that beats
Out a new beginning like a starter’s gun. And each tear
Shed on that final day, is a tiny looking glass that frames
The spirit of IGS for every boy; like a photo of their class.