The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1935
This, then, was the night. Undergraduate—graduand—soon that would be all over. He was preoccupied with wondering how it would feel to be at last among those whose fete this was to be, and did not even momentarily recall those nights, those months, those years of which this was the climax. He felt no glow of triumph, no overwhelming satisfaction. Yet strangely enough, though he had always taken that much for granted—that this moment's chief joy would rest upon reflection—he was unconcerned that it should not be so, and gave himself over calmly and entirely to the present.
Prelude of gowns and hoods (how do they hang?)—climbing of stairs—and then a devious passage through innumerable bouquets and chatterings to the appointed stand, there to be marshalled in inverse order—faculties reversed—alphabet deranged (what is this scheme?).
At last, in all its majesty, the procession moves. Is this the Hour? Almost the thrill of a triumphal march returning from afar to blazon Rome.
Hear the old refrains again, the professorial voices, and the rabble that do not cry for bread, but bring their own circuses with them. See on Olympus the hierarchy gowned; see before them the multitude drawn from the Seven Hills, and foremost among them the vestals bearing tribute to Minerva.
Was there a speaker? Two? What did we hear! Nought but a stirring of the air, the droning of a bee, the rustle of a neighbour's toga —with, at times, the tumult of the sea when gladiators clashed in the arena.
The formula! Hear it pronounced, not trippingly on the tongue, but like some doom of the Cumaean Sibyl. Up steps, find hand to shake, turn right, get bit of cardboard as you pass—and all is done! Laugh now at the hapless wretch with cabbage thrust upon him; at that one standing grimly in the dock while again the sacred formula is read; at the rabble draining their patience to the end; at all undergraduates, that strive so much—for this!
Now we depart again in formless ranks,
Into the serried mass that fills the hall.
Make merry! Laugh! prepare for gaiety!
For now the lecture-room may not recall.
Rejoice that prison bars are left behind,
That, after years of durance, you are free;
Or if (as I) you would those days again,
Temper your exile with philosophy.