Shakespeare at Toggers

Now all the youth of Oxford are on fire
And dog-eared learning in the Radder lies.
They sell the boathouse now to buy the oars,
And Isis trembles underneath her banks
At name of ‘Toggers.’
Now the straining crews
Bayed by the coxswains, lash the servile stream
Into a fury. ‘Bang! and ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’
What time the multitude, with hoarse acclaim,
Charge, bison-like, eyes right, along the towpath –
Men, women, babies, cripples and bicycles,
One rout. Here, like a tall o’er-topping tree,
The coach, with megaphone and self-importance,
Runs madly, or with sad chapfallen face
Groans, ‘All rowed fast, but none so fast as stroke.’
Here parents, friends, and visitors confused
Cheer the wrong boat, or slowly freeze to death
In loyal silence. Here the college scarf
In glorious technicolor flaunts the breeze,
Its owner scarce appearing. And here, elate,
‘Mid pistol-volleys, wild frivolities,
Leapings and shouts, the triumph-mad supporters –
The crown, the palm, the ecstasy of Toggers –
Cry ‘Bump, by Harry, meet me at the George!’

Oxford satires