"I Shall Not Pass"
by Meredith Minter, class of 1984
Once upon a time, in December 1975, the editor-in-chief of The Sundial received a letter. A single glance dispelled hopes of the New York Sun. It had obviously not been written by an eight-year-old named Virginia. Indeed, on closer examination, it wasn't a letter at all. It was a poem, anonymously authored, and reprinted from the newspaper of the University of Illinois. It had been submitted by a professor, Dr. Chatterton.
The editor, delighted by the submission, printed it on that week's editorial page. Since few articles, in or out of The Sundial, have conveyed more clearly the spirit of this joyful(?) season, it seems fitting to print it again here.
I Shall Not Pass
And it came to pass,
Early in the Morning toward the last day of the semester.
There arose a great multitude smiting their books and wailing,
And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth,
For the day of judgment was at hand.
And they were sore afraid, for they had left undone
Those things which they ought to have done,
And they had done
Those things which they ought not to have done
And there was no help for it.
And there were many abiding in the dorm
Who had kept watch over their books by night,
But it availed them naught.
But some there were who rose peacefully,
For they had prepared themselves the way
And made straight paths of knowledge.
And these were known as the
Wise Burners of the Midnight Oil
And to others they were known as Curve Raisers.
And the multitude arose, and ate a hearty breakfast.
And they came to the appointed place
And their hearts were heavy within them,
And they had come to pass,
But some to pass out.
And some of them repented of their riotous living
And bemoaned their Fate,
But they had not a prayer.
And at the last there came among them
One known as the Professor; and they feared exceedingly.
He was of the diabolical smile
And passed papers among them and went away.
And many and varied were the answers that were given.
For some of his teachings had fallen upon fertile minds.
Others had fallen among the fallows.
While others had fallen flat.
And some there were who wrote for one hour; others for two;
But some turned away sorrowful, and many of these
Offered a little Bull
In hopes of pacifying the Professor.
And these were the ones who had not a prayer.
And when they finished, they gathered up their belongings
And went their way quietly, each in her own direction,
And vowing each unto herself in this manner:
"I shall not pass this way again."
Originally published in The Sundial on December 11, 1981 (Vol. 66, no. 12, p. 6)
This article is taken from "The Past Master," a column written by Meredith Minter Dixon, class of 1984, for the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College student newspaper, The Sundial. It is published here with her permission.
Mrs. Dixon has written an invaluable multi-volume set, Maconiana: A Social History of Randolph-Macon Woman's College. For additional information, please visit her author's page on Amazon.
Please contact Mrs. Dixon (dixonm at pobox dot com) if you have comments or questions about her articles.