College Lyfe.

From: Poems (1844)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Carey and Hart 1844 Philadelphia

College Lyfe.

They go to scole to lern logyk and lawe, and eke contemplacion.
                                                PIERS PLOUHMAN.

THERE stands upon a hille, al verdantlie
Yclad with trees, and grasse, and waving graine,
An edifice, ne very haught and highe,
Ne lowe; of bricks ybuilt, joli and plaine;
Beseemeth such an house there to remaine.
A spire decks the roofe, which to the eyne
Of wandering wighte, who there his course hath ta’en,
Beneathe Dan Sol doth often glitterynge shine:
And al beyonde the walles are groves and meadowes fine.

There often have I whilom conned my taske,
Intent on booke with no huge pleasaunce fraughte,
Withouten hope of drinke from luscious ftaske,
To speed upon his waye one labouringe thoughte:
A booke as drye, perdie, was never boughte!
Ofte have I nodded, filled with drowsie sleepe,
Which Morpheus from his sombre land hath broughte,
And oft would starte, and vigyl fain would keepe,
Yet that same sleepie god still o’er my braine dyd creepe.

Then, ere I could againe my booke resume,
O fatale finisher of al my joye!
The glib-tongd bel would tingle through the roome,
O cursed bel, my peace thus to destroye!
No elfin sprite me then mote so annoye,
Ne goblyn ghoste with hellish puissance,
Ne byrchen swytch, ydrad by idle boye,
Ne to the hen-peckt wighte hys wyfe’s keen glance,
More troublous seemes than this, my miserie to enhance.

For who that bel hath hearde, must strait him move,
To roome where syts in state professour grave,
With booke in hande, that booke he well dothe love,
Greeke, Latin, Algeb, (Lord me from them save!)
Eache lucklesse youthe must wel his lesson have,
Or he eftsoons to lectyre vyle is ledde,
To answer for his sad idlesse, or brave
The puissance of wordes he needes must dred,
Words scattered eke like hay! on hys devoted hedde.

Yet in those walls there hearde hath been ful ofte
By nyghte or daie the sounde of jollitie;
But if in studie-houres, ah! then righte softe
Some tutor ryseth up ere wighte can see,
And stoppeth noyse of mirthe or minstrelsie,
And sendeth eache to hys own habitance;
Thus endeth often manye a youthful spree.
Helps not that they complayn of this usaunce,
For lawes must be enforced; ne left to ydle chaunce.

Ne noyse alone of merriment was hearde.
There met the eare ofttimes straunge mingled soundes,
Not like the liquid notes of woodlande byrde;
More like a packe, methinks, of hungrye houndes,
Yelping a chorus ere they slippe their boundes;
Fyddels ycrackt and huskie flutes were there,
Such discorde as the very aire astoundes!
That man must praye for deafnesse who would beare
The chaos straunge and loude that filleth al the aire.

But who can saye with what unfeigned glee
Eache hearte beate loude when dinner-houre dyd come,
Then like the rysinge billowes of the sea
Those younkers burste from everye tedious roome.
Not sweeter to the peasaunt is hys home,
Hys wyfe and chyldren after travel longe,
Ne to the Rabbi is bys sacred tome,
Ne to the babblynge foole hys own deare tonge,
Than is this dinner-bel to these same lerners yonge.

Anon they eate and callen out for more,
Which to their nosethyrls, smels with savoure sweete,
Whyle servaunts brynge them through the kytchen-door
Potatoes hotte, and sauce, and sodden meate,
Which, as they licken ofte their chappes, they eate,
Then loudlie call againe for thys or that:
I wot not why they dye not of surfeite,
So much they gobbel up, both leane and fatte;
So faste their jawes do goe, small tyme is there for chatte.

O, then to lounge beneathe the spreadyng trees,
Where al daie long the blythe byrds singen sweete,
There lysten to the syghing of the breeze,
There byd the echoes manie a note repeate,
Whyles al arounde the skie waxe warme with heate,
And lyttel flies dyd hum a drowsie song.
And some, mosquitoes highte, dyd byte our feete,
Suckyng the bloode, with tube instead of tong,
Whenas we brushed them off, so much the more they stung.

Sometymes we wandered by a sylvan streame,
That made soft murmurings on a summer’s daie,
Along—its bankes how often dyd we dreame,
And see its darke greene waters glyde awaye,
Kyssing the flowers which to their brinke dyd straie.
There, too, huge scarped rockes dyd hie appeare,
And from the sunne dyd shelter it alwaie;
Here as we sometymes strayed, wel mote we heare
Sweet sounde of distant bel, or mil-wheel plashyng neare.

Alack, to change this scene it grieves me sore;
To tel of fences clombe and plundered trees,
How one devoured fruits enow for four,
And each dyd such purloyn as dyd him please.
Al this was done, perdie, with impish ease;
Smal grypes dyd conscience give, those tymes I trow.
But ah! how harde when much replete with these,
To bend againe o’er bookes with clouded browe.
No tyme was that for us to lern the Why and Howe.

O College Lyfe! though manye a payne, I ween,
Each lazie youthe must needs have oft yfelte,
Still hast thou pleasaunce rare which few have seen
Of them who ne’er at lernynge’s shryne have knelt.
Thou art the. sweetest lyfe was ever dealte
To man, from happie starres in heaven that hen;
Starres, ever bryghte! sweet starres that thus do melt
With your softe rayes the destynies of men,
How lyttel of your wondrous influence do we ken!


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