Collegia – Ode 9: Nous Mangeons


SOMEWHERE there sounds a bell!
Anon there comes the noise of clatt’ring feet;
Upon the stairs a savoury odour meet,
That welcome dinner smell.

The door is shut; ah, that
Will not us hungry and brave men deter,
We start in tune such songs as we prefer,
E’en though we finish flat.

With dire effect inside
On those who for our mouths set out the meal,
The door is opened, and a hearty peal
Of cheers rolls far and wide.

The tables laid; the meat
Hidden obscured beneath a large round dish;
Restless we stand through ‘Grace’, torn by the wish
To sit and dole and eat.

We sit; anon a hum,
First low, then growing to a busy roar
As of the lions feeding, till no more,
No more meat is to come.

Comes College pudding; here
We have a succulent dish, solid withal;
For syrup, treacle, comes the diverse call
Liberally to besmear.

It’s over; at a sign
We rise in twos and threes to wander out,
Feeling quite weak within yet strong without,
Retreating to recline.

Yet there remain a few,
Still gnawing at the bones and offal left,
Chewing and shovelling in manner deft,
Till there’s no more to chew.

And many be that cast
Disparaging contemptuous eyes upon
The tender beef, the camel, and mutton,
Yet never known to fast!

8. 11. 1927