The Vulture and the Husbandman

Original Text: 
The Works of Arthur Clement Hilton (Of Marlborough & Cambridge) Author of "The Light Green" Together with his Life and Letters, ed. Robert P. Edgcumbe (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1902): 167-70. PR 4790 H27A12 Robarts Library
By Louisa Caroline
N.B. -- A Vulture is a rapacious and obscene bird, which destroys its prey by plucking it limb from limb with its powerful beak and talons.
A Husbandman is a man in a low position of life, who supports himself by the use of the plough. -- (Johnson's Dictionary).
2    As if it had been May;
3The Senate-House appeared inside
4    Unusually gay;
5And this was strange, because it was
7The men were sitting sulkily,
8    Their paper work was done;
9They wanted much to go away
10    To ride or row or run;
11"It's very rude," they said, "to keep
12    Us here, and spoil our fun."
13The papers they had finished lay
14    In piles of blue and white.
15They answered every thing they could,
16    And wrote with all their might,
18    They did not write it right.
19The Vulture and the Husbandman
20    Beside these piles did stand,
21They wept like anything to see
22    The work they had in hand.
23"If this were only finished up,"
24    Said they, "it would be grand!"
25"If seven D's or seven C's
26    We give to all the crowd,
27Do you suppose," the Vulture said,
29"I think so," said the Husbandman,
30    "But pray don't talk so loud."
31"O undergraduates, come up,"
32    The Vulture did beseech,
33"And let us see if you can learn
34    As well as we can teach;
35We cannot do with more than two
36    To have a word with each."
37Two Undergraduates came up,
38    And slowly took a seat,
39They knit their brows, and bit their thumbs,
40    As if they found them sweet,
41And this was odd, because you know
42    Thumbs are not good to eat.
43"The time has come," the Vulture said,
44    "To talk of many things,
46    And names of Jewish kings,
49"Please, Sir," the Undergraduates said,
50    Turning a little blue,
51"We did not know that was the sort
52    Of thing we had to do."
53"We thank you much," the Vulture said,
54    "Send up another two."
55Two more came up, and then two more,
56    And more, and more and more;
57And some looked upwards at the roof,
59But none were any wiser than
60    The pair that went before.
61"I weep for you," the Vulture said,
62    "I deeply sympathise!"
63With sobs and tears he gave them all
64    D's of the largest size,
65While at the Husbandman he winked
66    One of his streaming eyes.
67"I think," observed the Husbandman,
68    "We're getting on too quick.
69Are we not putting down the D's
70    A little bit too thick?"
71The Vulture said with much disgust
72    "Their answers make me sick."
73"Now, Undergraduates," he cried,
74    Our fun is nearly done,
75"Will anybody else come up?"
76    But answer came there none;
77And this was scarcely odd, because
78    They'd ploughed them every one!


1] This poem parodies Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Back to Line
6] Viva-voce: oral examination. Back to Line
17] by rote: by memory. Back to Line
28] ploughed: university slang for "get failed, give a less-than-passing grade to a candidate in an examination." Back to Line
45] Accidence: grammatical inflections of nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Back to Line
47] medieval trombone. Back to Line
48] shawms: medieval woodwind instrument. Back to Line
58] the: original "tbe". Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.