BEACONS GONE BEYOND THE MOON…….
John “Goosey” Bristol was a classic case of development under the aegis of the GBSS Hostel. In the Hostel, Goosey grew out into his expression of the Bristol flair and confidence. And he taught us to say “eegas”,like a St.Lucian. RIP.
The GBSS School Song
And when boyhood days are over
Our motto must still remain
For only by earnest endeavour
The highest we shall attain
A truly great West Indies
Be this our constant aim
Surmounting insular boundaries
A people in more than name
The final verse of the School Song is anything but final. Remember we started being addressed as students ‘at study or recreation, in classroom or playing field’. Now the author addresses us after boyhood days, and admonishes that our motto must still remain. The teachings of the song finally merge with the school motto “No reward without labor”, and the promise of highest achievement through earnest endeavor. This is fact was the theme running through the earlier verses. Note that it does not say that one would always win – your highest simply may not be the best at a particular time. Still there is satisfaction (as well as success) in giving your best. Remember Mr. Brizan, the cyclist.
The author and the song hands us a gift to take the motto with us and exercise it in our after school life. I stated earlier that I do like the practice of burials of GBSS students with a lusty rendition of the song, as if asking the dead to carry the song with them wherever they go. How many of us have been guided by this gift, even if we were not fully conscious that it was working in our lives?
And I keep wondering, had the opportunity been given, what lively debates and essays might have come in my day, based on key features of this song. Potential subject matter include: “respect to tradition yield”; ”beacons marking the way”; “keeping the torch alight today”; “to lose with a smile“; “the game is its own reward”; “the team wins the math at football, though one man must score the goal”; achieving through earnest endeavor”. Check out the Song – you are quite likely to find many more topics.
The next section introduces a larger picture than the individual or parochial, and encourages a “constant aim” to create “a truly great West Indies”; “a people in more than name”. This is indeed singing to ‘a greater good’, an ideal that was then, and still is, mostly an ideal. The perceptiveness of the song lies in the seeming recognition that this may be a very long way off; but it needs to be ingrained early in young minds.
And some progress has been made, despite the still open insular interests. When this song was written, the points of reference may have been self-government and independence. Since then we have seen others: actual independence; the WI Cricket Team; Federation; the UWI, and CARICOM, among them; even joint representation on some international matters. But if one honestly faces the issue of West Indian unity, we can see how far off we still are.
Here’s another of those debate issues: “Can we have “a truly great West Indies, a people in more than name” if we continue with the insular boundaries we now have”? And another: “Is there any value in concepts like a West Indian civilization?
But all this validates the currency of the Song’s admonishment that it be ‘our constant aim’ – another play on the merits of persistence; process; endeavor, etc. Implied is a long haul. Youngsters today have more points of reference for unity at the same age than I did. It could be that today’s or next decade’s technology may be what hastens the process; it may be that developments within the OECS may set the lead. But I fear that I would not see the day when we call ourselves “a people in more than name”, a worthy goal, but one which I have to deliberately pass on to next generations. This prize to the one who earns it- I and my generation didn’t earn this one, but we, like those before us, know our place in this long haul.