The Congress commemorated

The following document reached us under mysterious circumstances last week. Careful textual analysis using particle swarm model selection methods affirms that it is of foreign rather than Mancunian origin – possibly Yorkshire or the Thames Valley region. Readers who may be able to shed any light on its origins are strongly encouraged to keep the information to themselves.

Manuscript Found within an Omnibus, upon last Sunday morning, being an Occasional Verse, in some sort, an Ode Commemorative, in the mode of a Serio-Comic Song, concerning the late Universal Colloquy of all the Scholars of the Globe Entire, held at the College of the Rising Manufacturing Town of Manchester.

We’re up and down the Oxford Road, we’re in and out the venue,

With smile polite, with focused mind, consult again the menu;

Of hist.of sci. and tech. and med. there is, it seems, no end,

So much to choose, so much to lose, it drives me round the bend.


Vis viva and the Leyden jar are doing in my head,

with atoms, and with alchemy, I tumble into bed.


With some surprise I morning rise, half-drunk still I fear,

I make it to the theatre our President to hear;

He warns of false dichotomies, he recommends more science,

With diplomacy exquisite, commends new/old alliance.


Phlogiston and gravity are doing in my head,

With aplomb and suavity I fall right out of bed.


Receptions follow papers, I learn all sorts of things,

I lie upon the grass and muse on superstrings and kings,

with rictus smile and vacant mind I turn up for my session;

And question why I ever thought this a sensible profession.


Bacon, Boyle and habitus are doing in my head,

My brain infernal aching as I lie upon my bed.


For day on day Apollo beams, yeah sure we’re sitting pretty,

The gates of knowledge opened wide upon our heavenly city,

So Jeff thankyou, and thankyou James, and bless you Sally Horrocks,

(You cannot know how glad I am there was no neuro-bollocks);

And then lo! Minerva smiles, and joining hands with Clio,

Rewards the dedication of such logistical con brio.


But lo (again!), Minerva’s owl in darkling sky takes flight,

As congress ends in portent storm, and dimming of my sight.

We stumble out, we fall about, then light the flick’ring brand,

And know come late September we’re the village of the damned.


Chorus (fortissimo, with slowed tempo and diminuendo for closing two lines)

Boscovich and Herbert Spencer, doing in my head,

My room’s become a chaos, abstracts still unread,

Reflection in the mirror is of the walking dead,

Morpheus, O take me, collapsed upon my bed.

3 thoughts on “The Congress commemorated

  1. Sealing wax and string theory, I think this is a great ode but I may have to take a little H2O with my whiskey to digest all ( like the bard, abstracts will take many a morn to read…maybe in time for next conference!)

  2. I’m curious if the manuscript suggested a tune. The meter appears to be either common meter, iambic heptametre (seven feet of two syllables) or fourteener (fourteen syllables that do not necessarily compose into iambs) and this means that there are a huge number of potential songs and ballad tunes to sing it to from the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and House of the Rising Sun to the theme of Gilligan’s Island and the first season of Pokemon (as seen in North America).

  3. Pingback: Practice/Metis/Labour: Knowledge at Work? | Form and Force

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