Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE POOR STUDENT, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY



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THE POOR STUDENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: With song elate we celebrate
Last Line: O'er his immortal soul.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Mythology - Classical; Poverty; Schools; Soul; Students


WITH song elate we celebrate
The struggling Student wight,
Who seeketh still to pack his pate
With treasures erudite;
Who keepeth guard and watch and ward
O'er every hour of day,
Nor less to slight the hours of night,
He watchful is alway.

Though poor in pence, a wealth of sense
He storeth in excess --
With poverty in opulence,
His needs wax never less.
His goods are few, -- a shelf or two
Of classics, and a chair --
A banjo -- with a bird's-eye view
Of back-lots everywhere.

In midnight gloom, shut in his room,
His vigils he protracts,
E'en to the morning's hectic bloom,
Accumulating facts:
And yet, despite or wrong or right,
He nurtureth a ban, --
He hath the stanchless appetite
Of any hired man.

On Jason's fleece and storied Greece
He feeds his hungry mind;
Then stuffs himself like a valise
With "eats" of any kind:
With kings he feigns he feasts, and drains
The wines of ages gone --
Then husks a herring's cold remains
And turns the hydrant on.

In Trojan mail he fronts the gale
Of ancient battle-rout,
When, 'las the hour! his pipe must fail,
And his last 'snipe" smush out --
Nor pauses he, unless it be
To quote some cryptic scroll
And poise a sardine pensively
O'er his immortal soul.





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