In the Oxford Union during the Ides of March

In the Oxford Union during the Ides of March

Underneath the encircling balustrade, leadlight windows and gold-framed portraits,
Huddled in coats, sweaters and scarves against the unseasonable Spring cold,
We sat straining to hear each speaker’s every word: Teachers, linguists, poets,
Polylinguals, dramatists—each in our own way lovers of language. In all we were told

That week, we recognised, in among differences of colour and build, accent and style,
Age and gender, a pervasive sense of caring for others, a common commitment
To nurture others as teachers, actors, wordsmiths and artists: that, all the while,
Was the bond that drew us together, despite some moments of prickly disagreement.

Newfound colleagues, I salute you for your perspicacity, your willingness to share.
Thank you for the frameworks, which helped my thinking, and for the rich examples,
which stimulated my feeling, but, above all, for the new memories of Oxford: there
In the English springtime, framed by ancient, collegiate walls.
Truly, food for the soul!

Brian Devlin
Oxford
March 22, 2007

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