Carrying on with the theme...
(Poem #1904) Before an Examination (Campus Sonnets: 1)
The little letters dance across the page, Flaunt and retire, and trick the tired eyes; Sick of the strain, the glaring light, I rise Yawning and stretching, full of empty rage At the dull maunderings of a long dead sage, Fling up the windows, fling aside his lies; Choosing to breathe, not stifle and be wise, And let the air pour in upon my cage. The breeze blows cool and there are stars and stars Beyond the dark, soft masses of the elms That whisper things in windy tones and light. They seem to wheel for dim, celestial wars; And I -- I hear the clash of silver helms Ring icy-clear from the far deeps of night.
Another evocative trip down memory lane. "Before an Examination" has much the same theme and tone as Whitman's "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer", however, perhaps because I have indeed known the tedium of staying up all night doggedly studying for an exam, I am far more inclined to sympathise with Benet than I was with Whitman. Benet's campus sonnets [see links for all four] form an oddly mismatched set - the tone, the subject matter and the quality of the verse are all surprisingly variable. They do have a certain indefinable something, though - an occasional glimpse of the Benet who penned such masterpieces as "Winged Man" and "The General Public" - that makes them worth a read. Today's is arguably the best and definitely the smoothest of the lot; at any rate it was the one I found the most enjoyable, though I felt "Talk" had the potential to be a far better poem. I'd recommend going and reading all four as a sequence - they are, as I noted, not really coherent, but they complement each other nevertheless. martin [Links] All four Campus Sonnets: http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/benet02.html#misc1.7 Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Vincent_Ben%C3%A9t