Sweet Girl Graduate

A STORM was coming, but men's minds were
And in the dim tracts of Utopia's land,
At Merlin's feet the would-be graduate prayed.

For, yielding to his kindlier moods, the Sage
Had watched her at her petulance and play,
Even when they seemed lovable, and laughed
As those that watch a kitten ; thus he grew
Tolerant of what he half disdained, and she,
Perceiving that she was but half dis-dained,
Began to break her sports with graver fits---
Turn wholly blue ; and thus she clung to him,
Fixt in her will ; And so the terms went by.

Then Merlin loosed his hand from hers and
" I never was less wise, however wise,
Than when I gave you first a footing here ;
For, once allowed, I find you like the gnat
That settles, beaten back ; and beaten back,
Settles, till I must yield to give you place
In academic contests and degrees.
Why will you never ask some easier boon---
Private examination sans degree ?
Yea, St. Scott, I trusted you too much."

And Vivien, like the tenderest-hearted Miss
Fresh from the Globes of Mangnall, thus
          replied :
" Nay, Master, be not wrathful with your
Who feels no heart to ask another boon ;
I think you hardly know the tender rhyme
Of  ' take us all in all or not at all.'
I heard the people's William sing it once,
And it shall answer for me. Listen to it.

" ' In Arts, if once examiners be ours,
To take degrees we must have equal powers,
     The loss of these is as the loss of all.

" ' It is the little rift within the lute
That soon will leave the Girton lecturer mute ;
    And, slowly emptying, silence Newnham Hall.

" ' The little rift in academic lute,
The speck of discontent in hard earned fruit,
     That, eating inwards, turns it into gall.

" ' It is not worth the keeping ; let it go :
But shall it ? Answer fairly, answer no :
     And take us all in all or not at all.'

" O Master, do you love my tender rhyme ? "

Written  by
James A. Aldis

Poetry held a special place for the former Head Teacher of Queen Mary's Grammer School. When this poem appeared in Punch in April 1880 James A. Aldis was actively supporting the national campaign that would eventually see women students admitted to all University examinations,  and entitled to have their places in the men's list published and recorded, without, however, actually receiving degrees.  

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