Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A DIALOGUE ON ETHICS, by ALFRED DENNIS GODLEY

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A DIALOGUE ON ETHICS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Said the isis to the cherwell in a tone of indignation
Last Line: And of man -- at least in summer,' said the easy-going cher.
Alternate Author Name(s): Godley, A. D.
Subject(s): Morality; Oxford University; Ethics

SAID the Isis to the Cherwell in a tone of indignation,
'With a blush of conscious virtue your enormities I see:
And I wish that a reversal of the laws of gravitation
Would prevent your vicious current from contaminating me
With your hedonists who grovel on a cushion with a novel
(Which is sure to sap the morals and the intellect to stunt),
And the spectacle nefarious of your idle, gay Lotharios
Who pursue a mild flirtation in a misdirected punt!'

Said the Cherwell to the Isis, 'You may talk about my vices --
But of all the sights of sorrow since the universe began,
Just commend me to the patience that can bear the degradations
Which inflicted are by Rowing on the dignity of man:
The unspeakable reproaches which are lavished by your coaches --
On my sense of what is proper they continually jar' --
('It is simply Mos Majorum -- 'twas their fathers' way before 'em --
'Tis a kind of ancient Cussed 'em' -- said the Isis to the Cher.)

'Are we men and are we Britons? shall we ne'er obtain a quittance' --
Said the Cherwell to the Isis -- 'from the tyrants of the oar?
O it 's Youth in a Canader with the willow boughs to shade her
And a chaperon discreetly in attendance (on the shore),
O it's cultivated leisure that is life's supremest treasure,
Far from athletes merely brutal, and from Philistines afar:
I've a natural aversion to gratuitous exertion,
And I'm prone to mild flirtation,' said the unrepentant Cher.

But in accents of the sternest, 'Life is Real: Life is Earnest,'
(Said the grim rebuking Isis to his tributary stream);
'Don't you know the Joy of Living is in honourably Striving,
Don't you know the Chase of Pleasure is a vain delusive Dream?
When they toil and when they shiver in the tempests on the River,
When they're faint and spent and weary, and they have to pull it through,
'Tis in Action stern and zealous that they truly find a Teloj,
Though a moment's relaxation be afforded them by you!'

Said the Cherwell to the Isis, 'When the trees are clad in greenness,
When the Eights are fairly over, and it 's drawing near Commem.,
It is Ver and it is Venus that shall judge the case between us,
And I think for all your maxims that you won't compete with them!
Then despite their boasted virtue shall your athletes all desert you
(Come to me for information if you don't know where they are):
For it 's oxolazwmeu that 's the proper end of Woman
And of Man -- at least in summer,' said the easy-going Cher.

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