Scottish Poetry Selection
- Ballade of the Summer Term

This poem by Andrew Lang (1844 - 1912) is sub-titled, somewhat pedantically: "Being a Petition, in the form of a Ballade, praying the University Commissioners to spare the Summer Term." Lang, who was a student at Edinburgh as well as Balliol College Oxford, was later a fellow of Merton College at Oxford. Clearly this was a light-hearted suggestion for academic reorganization.

Ballade of the Summer Term

When Lent and Responsions are ended,
   When May with fritillaries waits,
When the flower of the chestnut is splendid,
   When drags are at all of the gates
(Those drags the philosopher "slates"
   With a scorn that is truly sublime),
Life wins from the grasp of the Fates
   Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!

When wickets are bowl'd and defended,
   When Isis is glad with "the Eights,"
When music and sunset are blended,
   When Youth and the summer are mates,
When Freshmen are heedless of "Greats,"
   And when note-books are cover'd with rhyme,
Ah, these are the hours that one rates -
   Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!

When the brow of the Dean is unbended
   At luncheons and mild tête-à-têtes,
When the Tutor's in love, nor offended
   By blunders in tenses or dates;
When bouquets are purchased of Bates,
   When the bells in their melody chime,
When unheeded the Lecturer prates -
   Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!


Reformers of Schools and of States,
   Is mirth so tremendous a crime?
Ah! spare what grim pedantry hates -
   Sweet hours and the fleetest of time!

Meaning of unusual words:
Responsions=first examination for BA degree at Oxford University
fritillaries=type of butterfly
Isis=the River Thames at Oxford
the Eights=rowing boat with crew of eight
prates=talks too much in a boring or silly way

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