Charles Stuart Calverley

(22 December 1831 – 17 February 1884 / Martley, Worchestershire)

Hic Vir, Hic Est


Often, when o'er tree and turret,
Eve a dying radiance flings,
By that ancient pile I linger
Known familiarly as 'King's.'
And the ghosts of days departed
Rise, and in my burning breast
All the undergraduate wakens,
And my spirit is at rest.

What, but a revolting fiction,
Seems the actual result
Of the Census's enquiries
Made upon the 15th ult.?
Still my soul is in its boyhood;
Nor of year or changes recks.
Though my scalp is almost hairless,
And my figure grows convex.

Backward moves the kindly dial;
And I'm numbered once again
With those noblest of their species
Called emphatically 'Men':
Loaf, as I have loafed aforetime,
Through the streets, with tranquil mind,
And a long-backed fancy-mongrel
Trailing casually behind:

Past the Senate-house I saunter,
Whistling with an easy grace;
Past the cabbage-stalks that carpet
Still the beefy market-place;
Poising evermore the eye-glass
In the light sarcastic eye,
Lest, by chance, some breezy nursemaid
Pass, without a tribute, by.

Once, an unassuming Freshman,
Through these wilds I wandered on,
Seeing in each house a College,
Under every cap a Don:
Each perambulating infant
Had a magic in its squall,
For my eager eye detected
Senior Wranglers in them all.

By degrees my education
Grew, and I became as others;
Learned to court delirium tremens
By the aid of Bacon Brothers;
Bought me tiny boots of Mortlock,
And colossal prints of Roe;
And ignored the proposition
That both time and money go.

Learned to work the wary dogcart
Artfully through King's Parade;
Dress, and steer a boat, and sport with
Amaryllis in the shade:
Struck, at Brown's, the dashing hazard;
Or (more curious sport than that)
Dropped, at Callaby's, the terrier
Down upon the prisoned rat.

I have stood serene on Fenner's
Ground, indifferent to blisters,
While the Buttress of the period
Bowled me his peculiar twisters:
Sung 'We won't go home till morning';
Striven to part my backhair straight;
Drunk (not lavishly) of Miller's
Old dry wines at 78:-

When within my veins the blood ran,
And the curls were on my brow,
I did, oh ye undergraduates,
Much as ye are doing now.
Wherefore bless ye, O beloved ones:-
Now unto mine inn must I,
Your 'poor moralist,' {51a} betake me,
In my 'solitary fly.'

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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