Jamaica College Revisited (1948)
Say! Do the griffins yet bestride the Tower?
And do they yet retain their ancient power?
Is work still burning on the plains below,
Spreading far and wide its cheery glow?
Ah, yes! Still stands the College, still I see
Each hedge, each shrubbery and each verdant tree.
No signs of ruin here, no bald decay,
Though scores, nay, thousands all have passed this way.
Unchanged the old school stands the test of age,
Of Nature and her elementary rage.
Here still good Virgil may a refuge find,
And all who share with him the classic mind.
Here dwell the spirits of the poet-bards
Of whose great fame we are the jealous guards.
A Chaucer or a Spenser yet may rise
From this fair place. Mayhap there dormant lies
A mighty talent in some teeming mind,
And though unrecognized by this unkind
And vulgar world, yet may there come a time
In some bright sphere or some ethereal clime
Wherein that soul may claim a place among
A classic-minded and immortal throng.
The good years treasure up each memory sweet
Kept safe from cruel Time's relentless feet.
Each aging wall recalls old sights and scenes
Forever lost to human eyes. Still leans
The restless ficus boughs against the Tower,
Where shaded by the dark and leafy bower
The old grey ghosts of younger days still rove.
At dusk they flitter forth and silent move
Through all the long and gloomy passages
Like listless souls of long-departed sages;
There, ghostly laughter of an older set
And whispers through the darkness echo yet.
The murmuring breezes waft them here and there
Complaining softly in the haunted air.
All grey and stark the silent buildings stand
While up above them, like some giant hand,
Hover the sombre clouds whose threatening mein
Lend sterner aspect to the solemn scene.
Beyond, Blue Mountain's mighty ranges rise
Outlined against the darkening evening
There the first symbols of the dawn appear
From thence Apollo, leaping from his lair,
First rears his hoary head above the clouds
When day once more draws back the night's dark shrouds:
Fresh hopes and aspirations spring anew
To cheer us on, perchance, or make us rue
Meanwhile the west grows grey, a shadow falls,
And idly plays upon the scarred walls;
The shapes and phantoms flitter all about
And romp within the classrooms and without,
Where lately cut and swept the grass grows green,
Unheeded, umolested and unseen.
The term is out: now one and all have gone,
And only I am left to brood alone;
Alone, save for these spirits of the past,
And with them now my lot I gladly cast.
Here stands the Hall whose honoured walls display
The names of those who will, long after they
Have run their earthly course, remain to be
An inspiration to posterity -
To those who otherwise might be like some
Who thought their tasks too trying and tiresome,
And frittered by the few (now precious) years
While those achievements which might have been theirs
Go to the credit of more studious friends.
Alas! They missed the road which upward wends
Its way to dizzy heights of knowledge bright,
Where spring the streams of learning and of light.
The sound of speech and laughter all else drowns,
And from his frame the old Archdeacon frowns.
Succeeding generations here have shared
The joys of those on noble Virgil reared.
Have not our minds, to flights of fancy fled,
Recalled the souls of heroes from the dead
And shared with them the doughty deeds of fame
Which with untainted glory crowned each name? -
Great Trojan Aeneas, and the brave Nisus,
Companion to the fair Euryalus;
Aletes, "ripe in judgement, bowed with years",
Moved by the daring of the two to tears,
Himself an able warrior and skilled;