The drowsy air, the throngs that gaze,
The ceremonial stir,
Mixed with the drone of Latin phrase
Became a distant blur,
In dream I drifted far away
From that Degree-Conferring Day.
The grave Sheldonian grew, instead,
A riotous tropic grove,
The towers and spires of Oxford spread
Luxuriant leaves above,
Flamboyant birds among them played
In Academic Plumes arrayed.
The Doctors of Divinity
In crimson feathers fluttered
Or flashed about from tree to tree
While wondrous cries they uttered.
Bright Bachelors of Civil Law, Exotic MAs by the score.
High overhead BLitts, BAs,
Were flaunting (you could see ‘em)
DPhils disported like displays
In some rich rare museum
– These Forest Lords, now full in view,
Appearing in their colours true.
But far below in murky gloom
We common fledglings keep
Our place. Black is our gayest plume,
Our song a tuneless cheep.
Can those bright things and we, poor dregs,
Derive (I cried) from kindred eggs?
But in my dream the loftiest bird
Whose coat was barred with gold
Replied, Although it seems absurd,
Take heart, spread wing, be bold !
The Difference in Kind (said he)
Is but a Difference in Degree.