Ode On The Installation Of The Duke Of Devonshire, Chancellor Of The University Of Cambridge, 1862

A poem by Charles Kingsley

Hence a while, severer Muses;
Spare your slaves till drear October.
Hence; for Alma Mater chooses
Not to be for ever sober:
But, like stately matron gray,
Calling child and grandchild round her,
Will for them at least be gay;
Share for once their holiday;
And, knowing she will sleep the sounder,
Cheerier-hearted on the morrow
Rise to grapple care and sorrow,
Grandly leads the dance adown, and joins the children's play.
So go, for in your places
Already, as you see,
(Her tears for some deep sorrow scarcely dried),
Venus holds court among her sinless graces,
With many a nymph from many a park and lea.
She, pensive, waits the merrier faces
Of those your wittier sisters three,
O'er jest and dance and song who still preside,
To cheer her in this merry-mournful tide;
And bids us, as she smiles or sighs,
Tune our fancies by her eyes.

Then let the young be glad,
Fair girl and gallant lad,
And sun themselves to-day
By lawn and garden gay;
'Tis play befits the noon
Of rosy-girdled June:
Who dare frown if heaven shall smile?
Blest, who can forget a while;
The world before them, and above
The light of universal love.
Go, then, let the young be gay;
From their heart as from their dress
Let darkness and let mourning pass away,
While we the staid and worn look on and bless.

Health to courage firm and high!
Health to Granta's chivalry!
Wisely finding, day by day,
Play in toil, and toil in play.
Granta greets them, gliding down
On by park and spire and town;
Humming mills and golden meadows,
Barred with elm and poplar shadows;
Giant groves, and learned halls;
Holy fanes and pictured walls.
Yet she bides not here; around
Lies the Muses' sacred ground.
Most she lingers, where below
Gliding wherries come and go;
Stalwart footsteps shake the shores;
Rolls the pulse of stalwart oars;
Rings aloft the exultant cry
For the bloodless victory.
There she greets the sports, which breed
Valiant lads for England's need;
Wisely finding, day by day,
Play in toil, and toil in play.
Health to courage, firm and high!
Health to Granta's chivalry!

Yet stay a while, severer Muses, stay,
For you, too, have your rightful parts to-day.
Known long to you, and known through you to fame,
Are Chatsworth's halls, and Cavendish's name.
You too, then, Alma Mater calls to greet
A worthy patron for your ancient seat;
And bid her sons from him example take,
Of learning purely sought for learning's sake,
Of worth unboastful, power in duty spent;
And see, fulfilled in him, her high intent.

Come, Euterpe, wake thy choir;
Fit thy notes to our desire.
Long may he sit the chiefest here,
Meet us and greet us, year by year;
Long inherit, sire and son,
All that their race has wrought and won,
Since that great Cavendish came again,
Round the world and over the main,
Breasting the Thames with his mariners bold,
Past good Queen Bess's palace of old;
With jewel and ingot packed in his hold,
And sails of damask and cloth of gold;
While never a sailor-boy on board
But was decked as brave as a Spanish lord,
With the spoils he had won
In the Isles of the Sun,
And the shores of Fairy-land,
And yet held for the crown of the goodly show,
That queenly smile from the Palace window,
And that wave of a queenly hand.
Yes, let the young be gay,
And sun themselves to-day; -
And from their hearts, as from their dress,
Let mourning pass away.
But not from us, who watch our years fast fleeing,
And snatching as they flee, fresh fragments of our being.
Can we forget one friend,
Can we forget one face,
Which cheered us toward our end,
Which nerved us for our race?
Oh sad to toil, and yet forego
One presence which has made us know
To Godlike souls how deep our debt!
We would not, if we could, forget.

Severer Muses, linger yet;
Speak out for us one pure and rich regret.
Thou, Clio, who, with awful pen,
Gravest great names upon the hearts of men,
Speak of a fate beyond our ken;
A gem late found and lost too soon; {306}
A sun gone down at highest noon;
A tree from Odin's ancient root,
Which bore for men the ancient fruit,
Counsel, and faith and scorn of wrong,
And cunning lore, and soothing song,
Snapt in mid-growth, and leaving unaware
The flock unsheltered and the pasture bare
Nay, let us take what God shall send,
Trusting bounty without end.
God ever lives; and Nature,
Beneath His high dictature,
Hale and teeming, can replace
Strength by strength, and grace by grace,
Hope by hope, and friend by friend:
Trust; and take what God shall send.
So shall Alma Mater see
Daughters fair and wise
Train new lands of liberty
Under stranger skies;
Spreading round the teeming earth
English science, manhood, worth.

1862.

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