by Patrick Hegarty-Morrish
We have little left to remember of this city of aquatint. Its morning mists, grey springtime, the rare summer’s day, fleeting like a lovebird’s escape between hedgerows; wafts of pheasant roasting over her gables and cupolas, through cloister and quadrangle, carried to the dreaming student on a weightless breeze to displace smells of timeworn parchment. Aphrodite, what I would give to have you enact on my mind those charms that excited Pygmalion’s statue to come, breathing, into this realm; for, alas, the loss of that world is close to completion.
Yesterday evening I passed through second quad. I happened upon the frightful proceeding which follows. A gaggle of student chanced to appear simultaneously. They troubled the grass by falling – many of them face-first – from the pathway into the lawn. Thus positioned, they writhed and contorted – cackling and screeching – whilst their colleagues looked on with similar signals of amusement. I dared not call to them, or motion by some means the gravity of their misdemeanours, fearing the consequences such excitation might exact upon my person. Their forms were imprinted on the grass the next morning.
I urge the powers that be to enact any cunning cruelty that can torment them much and hold them long. The sanctity of our lawns is the last we cling to of the true, sacred shape of this ancient institution. They must learn the depth of their villainy, the extent of their treachery, the strength of our indignation.
Observance of this convention or running roughshod over tradition is the choice between the expediency of society and our forebear’s pensive attitude; the sanctimony of learning and the perils of drunkenness; the urge to reach Oxford’s dreaming spires or cascading to inanity so Newman will rise again in anguish.
J. A. F.