Great Achievements

Process in the long line of post-graduates

Making a difference as they break ranks from the cloisters

Into a world poised for constancy

Yet expecting change

From the memories of yesterday.


Girded and gowned with a flat hat

Doffed in respect to the old man  [1]

Waxed and pickled and seated on a stool

Immodestly allowing all to see his constitution

Framed in a box.


Alumni of a university colonnaded beneath its capitals

Ranked in a database no-one accepts

But the top dog barking his achievements  [2]

Classified two-one merit in a world that counts

Degrees of global warming.


Stepping into a future

Waiting to be embraced by the hug of loved ones

Snapping up portraits of what we were like

Before the grey hairs of achievement

Peeped from the mortar boards of tomorrow.


Backtrack from the cul de sac

And a maze of dead ends engulfing each other

Into the choices of the future's calling

With the certainties of faith

Under-girding a silent greatness.


31 August 2007


Written after André's graduation at UCL on 29/8/07 where the theme had been 'Great Achievements'. Today, being my mother's birth anniversary, prompted reflections on the achievements of the lesser known, including my un-degreed parents who wanted no memorial erected to themselves.


[1] Jeremy Bentham - a utilitarian with significant influence on early socialism

[2] Prof Malcolm Grant, President and Provost spoke of UCL's position in the university world