Quaint and Curious - Parodies and Pastiches of Poe's The Raven

The College Craven

Parodies of the Works of English and American Authors, Volume II 1884

Once when in the evening walking, with my darling softly talking,
Wandering by the shining river, as we’d often done before;
While the clear full moon was beaming, on the flowing waters gleaming,
And the little waves were streaming, streaming, rippling towards the shore
Like small bars of silver dancing, gliding in towards the shore,
Noiseless save for splash of oar.
Oh, distinctly I remember ’twas in bright and clear September
Soon after I had returned to this ancient seat of lore,
Vainly I had sought to borrow from my books surcease to sorrow,
Fearing, dreading that the harrow would pass over me once more,
Little hoped I for Testamur,[1] dreading to be ploughed once more,
Ploughed perhaps for evermore.
So I pondered deeply thinking, fancy into fancy linking,
Balmy air of cool night drinking soothingly through every pore.
Whilst I wandered with my dearest, and the moon was at her clearest,
Earth to heaven seemed the nearest it had ever been before;
Life was sweeter at that moment than it had ever been before,
Than it will be evermore.
Thus while we were gently strolling, pleasant thoughts our minds enrolling,
Suddenly I heard a footstep that I had not heard before,
And I felt my blood run colder, and in fact was no way bolder,
As I felt upon my shoulder the “bulldog’s”[2] hand I so abhor,
Then he said with gleeful malice those old words I so abhor
“The proctor[3] wants you,” nothing more.
“Bulldog,” cried I, “thing of evil, how I wish you at the devil,”
But the “bulldog,” most ferocious, never let me from his paw,
But before the proctor hurried, who my wits completely flurried,
Since they were already worried, “Your name and college I implore,
And your presence in the morning I must earnestly implore,”
Quoth the proctor, nothing more.
In the morning by fears riven, though against them I had striven,
That the penalty was heavy I in no way could ignore.
But my case being duly stated, I was most severely rated,
And within the college gated, gated till the term was o’er,
Ne’er to wander forth at even till the weary term was o’er,
Only this, and nothing more.

Walter Hamilton published this poem in his Parodies of the Works of English and American Authors, Volume II, where he says it was written at Wadham College, Oxford, November 1884.


  1. Testamur — “We testify” in Latin. In The Oxford Degree Ceremony (1906), J Wells explains this as a “the precious scrap of blue paper issued after every examination to each successful candidat” which at one point had to be presented to the Registrar as part of the degree award ceremony, to prove the candidate had fulfilled the degree requirements. (back to text)
  2. “bulldog” — According to the University of Oxford Glossary, this is a nickname for the Proctors’ Officers (formerly known as the University Police). (back to text)
  3. proctor — Officers elected to ensure “the statutes, regulations, customs, and privileges of the University are observed” (from the University of Oxford Glossary). (back to text)

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