Divitias alius fulvo sibi congerat auro…
This mightn’t be exactly what they meant,
Classically, at least, when they praised the life
Of quiet leisure in the country - but
Making those changes that centuries demand,
You’d surely say that this is close enough
And ought also to qualify for praise.
Let others heap up riches - piles of gold -
Spend their life on work as forgettable
As any other mortal enterprise.
I’ll enjoy my role, humbler, if you say,
Of student with a graduate fellowship -
Surely our version of the ‘college living.’
It’s nothing like the salary you’d draw
Out in the real world, before or after,
And certainly precludes all luxury.
Though it pays less, so it asks less.
Who needs to live among the bourgeoisie,
Once you’ve got the basics provided for?
I’m not ashamed to go by foot or bike,
Live on instant noodles and the library.
This life is pleasant: time to sit and watch
Students on the quad, evening light on brick,
The entire scene aglow with mellow sun
As the year slides on into October.
Or later, once the winter’s come, how sweet
Laying long abed, one’s love in one’s arms,
While all outside is storm and sullen snow.
What’s out there that’s worth leaving this to find?
Don’t bother answering; I know already
Just what you would say. Sure it takes some will
To turn down biglaw and its hundred thousands.
Maybe you think you won’t lose a thing by it.
But you’ll lose years - and though it’s now somewhat
Unfashionable, let me remind you:
The years are running out even as we speak.
All too soon “what then?” answers with silence.
While fate allows it, let use take advantage
Of endowment funds, grants, and scholarships -
A brief respite of time lived leisurely -
Nor too eagerly strive for later gain.