Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Almae Matres
By Andrew Lang (1844–1912)
 
(St. Andrews, 1862. Oxford, 1865)

ST. ANDREWS by the Northern sea,
  A haunted town it is to me!
A little city, worn and gray,
  The gray North Ocean girds it round,
And o’er the rocks, and up the bay,        5
  The long sea-rollers surge and sound.
And still the thin and biting spray
  Drives down the melancholy street,
And still endure, and still decay,
  Towers that the salt winds vainly beat.        10
Ghost-like and shadowy they stand
Clear mirror’d in the wet sea-sand.
 
O, ruin’d chapel, long ago
  We loiter’d idly where the tall
Fresh-budded mountain-ashes blow        15
  Within thy desecrated wall:
The tough roots broke the tomb below,
  The April birds sang clamorous,
We did not dream, we could not know
  How soon the Fates would sunder us!        20
 
O, broken minster, looking forth
  Beyond the bay, above the town,
O, winter of the kindly North,
  O, college of the scarlet gown,
And shining sands beside the sea,        25
  And stretch of links beyond the sand,
Once more I watch you, and to me
  It is as if I touch’d his hand!
 
And therefore art thou yet more dear,
  O, little city, gray and sere,        30
Though shrunken from thine ancient pride,
  And lonely by thy lonely sea,
Than these fair halls on Isis’ side,
  Where Youth an hour came back to me.
 
A land of waters green and clear,        35
  Of willows and of poplars tall,
And in the Spring-time of the year,
  The white may breaking over all,
And Pleasure quick to come at call;
  And summer rides by marsh and wold,        40
And Autumn with her crimson pall
  About the towers of Magdalen roll’d:
And strange enchantments from the past,
  And memories of the friends of old,
And strong Tradition, binding fast        45
  The flying terms with bands of gold,—
 
All these hath Oxford: all are dear,
  But dearer far the little town,
The drifting surf, the wintry year,
  The college of the scarlet gown,        50
St. Andrews by the Northern sea,
That is a haunted town to me!
 
 
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