Oh for the bleak and wintry days
When we set our blood in motion,
Leaping the rocks below the braes
And wetting our feet in the ocean,
Or shying at marks for moderate sums
(A penny a hit, you remember),
With aching fingers and purple thumbs,
In the merry month of December!
There is little doubt we were very daft,
And our sports, like the stakes, were trifling;
While the air of the room where we talked and laughed
Was often unpleasantly stifling.
Now we are grave and sensible men,
And wrinkles our brows embellish,
And I fear we shall never relish again
The pleasures we used to relish.
And I fear we never again shall go,
The cold and weariness scorning,
For a ten mile walk through the frozen snow
At one o’clock in the morning:
Out by Cameron, in by the Grange,
And to bed as the moon descended . . .
To you and to me there has come a change,
And the days of our youth are ended.
ON AN EDINBURGH ADVOCATE
In youth with diligence he toiled
A Roman nose to gain,
But though a decent pug was spoiled,
A pug it did remain.
THE BANISHED BEJANT
In the oldest of our alleys,
By good bejants tenanted,
Once a man whose name was Wallace—
William Wallace—reared his head.
Rowdy Bejant in the college
He was styled:
Never had these halls of knowledge
Welcomed waster half so wild!
Tassel blue and long and silken
From his cap did float and flow
(This was cast into the Swilcan
Two months ago);
And every gentle air that sported
With his red gown,
Displayed a suit of clothes, reported
The most alarming in the town.
Wanderers in that ancient alley
Through his luminous window saw
Spirits come continually
From a case well packed with straw,
Just behind the chair where, sitting
With air serene,
And in a blazer loosely fitting,
The owner of the bunk was seen.
And all with cards and counters straying
Was the place littered o’er,
With which sat playing, playing, playing,
And wrangling evermore,
A group of fellows, whose chief function
Was to proclaim,
In voices of surpassing unction,
Their luck and losses in the game.
But stately things, in robes of learning,
Discussed one day the bejant’s fate:
Ah, let us mourn him unreturning,
For they resolved to rusticate!
And now the glory he inherits,
Thus dished and doomed,
Is largely founded on the merits
Of the Old Tom consumed.
And wanderers, now, within that alley
Through the half-open shutters see,
Old crones, that talk continually
In a discordant minor key:
While, with a kind of nervous shiver,
Past the front door,
His former set go by for ever,
But knock—or ring—no more.