(A graduate of Manchester University looks back.)

I STUDIED in a dark Victorian pile,
Murky with yellow lamps by mocking day.
In its black courtyard- wrenched from the stiff clay
When it was built- a stone, the shade of bile,
Stood on a plinth, like a blunt- ended style
Pointing obliquely at the sodden grey.
“that is the Serpent’s Gallstone,” we would say
To the rare stranger, with a crooked smile.

For thus our motto ran: Be ye as wise
As serpents and as innocent as doves.
And so we learned all manner of strange lies;
We tasted gall in all our early loves,
Darkened our thoughts to match the darkened skies,
And, if our hands were clean, wore dirty gloves.

PUNCH, June 18 1958



One thought on “The Serpent’s Gallstone

  1. Oh, splendid,really splendid. Lister at the top of his form – especially that wry, thought-provoking ending. Thank you so much for the posting; this is one which I had missed.


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