Occidit Miserum Crambe Repetita Pupillum

Original Text: 
College Rhymes: An Anthology of Verse Written by Members of Canterbury College 1873-1923, ed. O. T. J. Alpers (Auckland: Whitcombe and Tonks, 1923): 9-10. 11645.dd.13 British Library
2This is the Dane who was off his head
3Who appears in the play that Bill wrote --
4This is the book the Professor read
5About the Dane who was off his head
6Who appears in the play that Bill wrote --
7This is the gent of German descent
8Who wrote the book the Professor read
9About the Dane who was off his head
10Who appears in the play that Bill wrote --
11These are the notes the Professor embodied
12To use in his lectures, when once he'd studied
13In an English translation the explanation
14(An awfully cute 'un) the learned Teuton
15Evolved of the Dane who was not quite sane
16Who appears in the play that Bill wrote --
17This is the Prof. that read the book
18But never agreed with the view it took:
19For he knew much better the "Art," etcetera,
20Of Bill aforesaid who wrote the play
21About the Dane, who was mad as they say,
22Than all the German books in a lump
23Which explain that the Dane was off his chump
24Who appears in the play that Bill wrote --
25This is poor Bill who wrote the play;
26He's dead and gone, so he cannot say
27What he meant by the Dane of whom it was said
28That he may or may not have been off his head,
29By the learned Doctor who wrote the screed
30With which the Prof. has never agreed,
31Who both of them think they know much better
32Than Billy himself, his "Art," etcetera,
33And whether he meant the Dane "to be",
34For "that is the question," or "not to be"
35As sane as a judge or as mad as a hatter,
36Or a little of both -- but it don't much matter;
37For whichever it was we must all of us cram
38The notes of the Prof. to pass our exam,
39Till we're utterly sick of the Dane called Ham-
40let who comes in the play that Bill Wrote.
Diploma Day Song (1893)

Notes

1] The Latin title may be translated "cold (re-served, repeated) cabbage kills the wretched student." Professor Hugo de Quehen (University College, Toronto; personal communication, March 2001) refers us to "Satire VII," lines 150-57, by Juvenal, whose attack on students the Canterbury poem redirects, topsy-turvy, into a merry rebuke of their own English teachers:
Declamare doces? o ferrea pectora Vetti,
cum perimit saevos classis numerosa tyrannos.
nam quaecumque sedens modo legerat, haec eadem stans
perferet atque eadem cantabit versibus isdem;
occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros.
quis color et quod sit causae genus atque ubi summa
quaestio, quae veniant diversa e parte sagittae,
nosse volunt omnes, mercedem solvere nemo.
which may be rendered as
Or do you teach rhetoric? O Vettius! what iron bowels must you have when your troop of scholars slays the cruel tyrant: when each in turn stands up, and repeats what he has just been conning in his seat, reciting the self-same things in the self-same verses! Served up again and again, the cabbage is the death of the unhappy master! What complexion should be put on the case; within what category it falls; what is the crucial point; what hits will be made on the other side -- these are things which everyone wants to know, but for which no one is willing to pay.
See Juvenal and Perseus, revised edn., trans. G. G. Ramsay (London: William Heinemann, 1965): 148-51.

Parodying the nursery rhyme, "This is the house that Jack Built," first published in 1755 (The Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes, ed. Iona and Peter Opie [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966]: 229-32), which begins:

This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

....

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Publication Start Year: 
1923
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001.
Form: