oxford, university, architecture

The Lonely Student

It was late summer or early autumn,

You could take it either way,

And the exam results were out.

I saw him walk uncertainly

Across the quad towards an interview,

And I remembered what I was

When timidly I came.


He looked fragile despite his youth,

Unsure of where to go,

And of what to say when he arrived.

Alone and thin

In a grey suit.

School was done

And now at Oxford

What was there to come?


Three years of patient work

With friends both new and old?

With time for play from day to day

And youth’s mad excesses more or less controlled?


Or will he try to change the world

In these three short years

And take upon his shoulders

Each injustice that appears?


Or will neuroses lie in wait

And ambush the young mind

That childhood had protected?

But childhood is now behind.


Or will three years of sport come now,

A rugby blue or one for rowing perhaps?

And study is wedged in here and there

Between the hours of sweat and strain,

Sharpening the body to a fine pitch.


Now he has reached the door,

And squares his shoulders

And then knocks so timidly.


What will await him now

In this strange world?

Will he enjoy his three-year stay

In these quadrangles so grey?

I wonder and I fear.

‘Will he be happy here?’