Saturday, December 09, 2017
Unpublished Verses by J.K. Stephen
He can't keep away from the bottleNotes:
And he thinks that he knows how to ride
But he found where the late Aristotle
And his Biote calmly abide
The whiskey wanes fast in his cellar, 5
He is sadly addicted to sleep;
But he isn't a bad sort of fellow,
And his learning is certainly deep.
He isn't exactly a German
And he is but a Yankee at heart; 10
But he preaches a beautiful sermon
And lectures to women on art.
He possesses a great deal of knowledge
And expresses opinions with zest:
But there isn't a man in the College 15
Who is more to the taste of the rest.
3-4 (he found where the late Aristotle / And his Biote calmly abide): see Charles Waldstein, "The Finding of the Tomb of Aristotle," Century Magazine 44.3 (July, 1892) 414-426, and Inscriptiones Graecae XII,9 564 (Euboia, Eretria, 3rd century B.C.) — [Β]ιότη [Ἀ]ριστοτέλου. See also Edith Hall, "Another Non-Tomb of Aristotle," The Edithorial (26 May 2016).
9-10 (He isn't exactly a German / And he is but a Yankee at heart): Waldstein was born in New York City, the son of German immigrants.
12 (lectures to women on art): "The use of 'women' is interesting. 'Lectures to ladies' was a conventional title in Oxbridge from the early 1870s; JKS is being rougher, man to man." (Christopher Stray)
15 (the College): King's College, Cambridge, which was also J.K. Stephen's college.
Thanks to Christopher Stray for permission to print these verses, and to Ian Jackson, who suggests that Stephen may have been influenced by "How pleasant to know Mr. Lear."