All alone—as a Scholar of Tyrwhitt
When examined in Hebrew he sits—
On a log that mysterious spirit
Smokes in silence, and silently spits.
And yet not alone sat the vision;
There came, as he sat on his log,
A wag of delight and submission
From the tail of each demi-drowned dog.
Black eels from his temples were hanging,
His teeth were like teeth of a jack;
His lips were inaudibly “slanging”;
His eyes were all muddy and black;
And water-snakes, round his neck twining,
Were hissing; and water-rats swam
At his feet; so without much divining
I recognised Old Father Cam.
“All hail to thee, Camus the reedy!”
I cried, in alarm and surprise;
“Say, why are thy garments so weedy?
And why are these tears in thine eyes?”
Then the River-god answered me sadly,
“My glory aquatic is gone!
My prospects, alas! look but badly;
Not a race for four years have I won.
“I have oarsmen as strong—–even
Than when my first honours I bore;
Their arms are as long—perhaps longer;
Their shoulders as broad as of yore,
Yet the prospects of light-blue look bluer;
I am losing my swing, form and time;
For who can row well in a sewer;
Or pull through miasma and slime?”
Thus murmured the River-god moaning;
But I bade him to dry his old eye—
“In vain is this weeping and groaning;
Let your motto be, ‘Never say die!’
Though your waves be more foul than Cocytus,
Though your prospects, no doubt, are most blue;
Since Oxford is ready to fight us,
We will try to select a good crew.
My friend Lady Margaret tells me
She can lend me a Bow and a Two;
The Lady, I own, sometimes sells me,
But this time I am sure she’ll be true.
For WATNEY is wiry and plucky,
And that BEEBEE’S A 1 all allow;
And our boat cannot fail to be lucky
With a double 1st Class in the bow.
“Then Corpus its PIGOTT shall lend
Young, healthy, and active, and strong;
And Etona her KINGLAKE shall send us,
To row our good vessel along;
And Five from the head of the river,
Like Pallas from Jove’s head appearing,
Shall add to the weight of the quiver
Of the feather-weight Argonaut steering.
“Then BORTHWICK, the mighty and
Shall row like a Briton at Six;
And GRIFFITHS, not prone to be passive,
Shall pull us to glory like bricks.
Our ‘Stroke,’ people say, on the feather
Is a trifle too fond of a pause;
But while some say, ‘there’s nothing like leather,’
I maintain there is nothing like LAWES.