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(With apologies to William Dunbar)

Long ago, I was healthy and glad.
Then I enrolled as an English grad
student, went for the PhD,
Universitas occidit me

learned to read in French (or nearly),
gave up Latin, took up theory,
envied the salaried bourgeoisie,
   Universitas occidit me

taught a class in English Comp,
fell in love with the writing prompt,
and wrote my teaching philosophy.
   Universitas occidit me

Alas for the papers I presented!
My funding could not be extended.
Still, I’d finished Chapter Three
   Universitas occidit me

so, having hammered out an end,
I was permitted to defend
my diss, as a formality,
   Universitas occidit me

then set to teaching English Lit
from Beowulf through Moby Dick.
And even now, I yearn to be
   – Universitas occidit me –

on tenure track (no matter where),
with paid sabbaticals to spare,
among the full-time faculty . . .
   Universitas occidit me

Midway through my life’s syllabus
—dear God, we take what’s given us!—
I’m doing what I used to love for free,
   Universitas occidit me

since this poor gig, my little tragedy,
adds yet another line to my CV.
O senior scholars, have you eyes to see?
   The University is me.