Rain swoops on Oxford lik a maddened hawk ,
Swift and relentless as the Pimpernel :
Bleaker than breakers on a barren shore
It vents a pent-up hatred of mankind .
The aesthete yawns , uncoiling from the floor,
Sets down his coffee cup , and draws the blind :
The Fellow pauses in pellucid talk
To pass his pensive guest the muscadet
And beg him to postpone his homeward walk :
The ill-clad sportsman , chewing caramel ,
Feels that he cannot trot a metre more —
‘Mens sane’: let him now improve his mind ;
He scuttles in at Blackwell’s lighted door
Without one long or lingering look behind ,
While a belated don , with anxious stalk
Bears his umbrella along Holywell .
At Folly Bridge the river rushes dank :
Young workers throng the Camera as a hive:
Through swirling rain the tower of St Cross
Suggests a dim and silent sanctuary :
None sit a-sunning , but young lovers meet
(In great discomfort and obscurity)
Beneath the weeping trees on Cherwell bank
Until the gates are shut at half-past five .
Dull grows the day and merry grows the moss
Within this ancient university :
High and serene above the rainswept street
The Caesars glare in classic dignity.
Undated, but surely Autumn term 1948.