Ballade of the Summer Term

Andrew Lang

(Being a Petition, in the form of a Ballade, praying the University Commissioners to spare 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!

Lang studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford.

The Thames at Oxford is called the Isis. The university rowing (in "eights") takes place there. 

The gardens of Magdalen College are the most beautiful in the University and are famous for the rare fritilleries that grow there.

Anyone who has experienced the fleeting bliss of a summer term at Oxford - or any other place of learning, will sympathise with Lang's gushing sentiments.

Poetry Atlas has many other poems about Oxford.