Collegia – Ode 85: Doctor Richard


(Apologies to Sir Walter Scott)

Oh, old Doctor Dick has come into the hall!
Throughout the grey college his face beams on all;
And save for white side-tufts he coiffure has none,
His bald cranium shines like the red setting sun.
So faceful of health, and so crazy at heart,
There never was a prof. like old Doctor Richard.

He comes for his lecture on physics profound,
As he clears his long throat we utter no sound.
But ere he says much we know to our cost
His notes for the lecture he seems to have lost.
We know he is working his status toward
A degree in psychology is Doctor Richard,

So shyly he gives us a question or two,
And then a quick exercise, something to do.
We check the results and we total the score,
Though we’re quite in the dark and we think it a bore.
Then he splashes some ink on a large piece of card
And bids us observe it, does Doctor Richard.

“Now look at this figure and tell me in turn
If from its crude shape any message you learn.
For here have I come with this queer shape of mine
To take some statistics and try to divine
What goes on in your heads when you cogitate hard
And will help my research” quoth Doctor Richard.

We each guessed the object ere the Doc took it up,
Some thought it a turnip, and others a cup;
While one of the number more bold than the rest
Made a note that it looked like part of Mae West.
He took all our papers, but reactions did guard –
He was telling us little was Doctor Richard.

Then he issues more paper and says, “If you please,
“I want you to tap little dots upon these;
Be as quick as you can, I will give you one minute:
And don’t be alarmed, there’s psychology in it.”
So we tap at the signal and tap on till barred
By the sharp shouted “Stop!” from old Doctor Richard.

We then exchange papers and count each other’s dots,
By the time we are finished we’re all seeing spots.
“If your score is near sixty you’re a phlegmatic soul:
But if it’s over a hundred the madhouse your goal:
If times about eighty your paper you’ve starred
You’re just about average” says Doctor Richard.

There is mounting excitement ‘mong student clan
As we notice the score there achieved by each man:
There are chortles of mirth at Pollard’s low score,
But when they hear min there’s incredulous roar;
My total’s a hundred and forty. “My word”
“You’ll be certified sure” says Doctor Richard.

10. 5. 30