All tragedy can be poetic

[Below is the transcription of a tear-stained letter found taped to a printer in O’Shaughnessy Hall.]

O you, cruel Mistress, who leads me along

As sirens call cunningly sailors with song;

Unmanly dependence on thee do I bear,

For knowing each day that each day you’ll be there.


You toy with me, coyly pretending you’ll work,

Till freezing and wheezing you shudder and jerk.

Your youthful glow fadeth, betraying your age;

You send up your spirit and leave me enraged.


Then I disavow you; the cycle is broken.

“We shall not reune” (I have more than once spoken).

I know your true self now with no more illusions,

You vile sick sadist who preys on delusion.


With bachelor’s vigor I proudly depart,

For only the lonely can safeguard the heart.

Now vimly and virile without you I’ll stand;

I won’t print my essays but write them by hand.


The fog clears without you and sudd’nly I see:

This drinking-song rhythm is far below me.

Repenting from immature meter I find

New couplets of elegy sing in my mind.


Lone can I see how bright yon horizons glow with such increase

Loos’d from the chains of your love, free to live far from your door.

Odi et amo. Quare id faciam fortasse requiris

Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.


Lightly I float with a song now unburden’d; here do I rest, this

Locus amoenus indeed. Peace in O’Shaughnessy Hall.

Wand’ring my eyes fall upon thee, my heart and my spirit arrested.

Loce deformis es hic! Heavy the prideful do fall.


I find myself in stunn’d pentameter;

With halting steps I limp iambic’ly

To-ward the printer. Former amateurs

Relapse into dependence cyclic’ly.


“An old man, broken with the storms of school

Is come to lay his weary bones with thee;”

Relying on his mistress once named cruel,

Relieved to print his essays (for a fee).


Regaining old habits and amphibrach feet,

We join in reunion, portentously sweet.

The cycle continues; a circle of hell

As Dante proclaimeth and demons know well.




[Editor’s note: the poem was printed, but the ink was splotchy and streaked.]


James Whitaker is a graduate student in the Theology department. If you have not seen him around recently, it is because he has spent three weeks undercover, convincing the local geese that he is one of their flock. Accordingly, he cannot check any emails sent to

Photo Credit: Lauren Douglas