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Promonius and Constanes
Written June 8, 1968

 

Background:  In the spring of 1968, I was a junior at Oberlin College.  Final exams were over, and most of my classmates had left for home.  It was Saturday, June 8, two days before the graduation ceremony for the seniors.

But I was still there.  As the WOBC station director, I was among the students deemed to have important work to do through the Commencement weekend.

However, I also had free time.  I had recently snapped these photos, and that day I started this quasi-Shakespearean dialogue.

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In this recording from the spring of '68, the hourly chimes ring out from the bell tower of Finney Chapel, seen below.

Enter Promonius and Constanes separately.

PRO.

Good Constanes!  I trust you fare as well
As doth this glorious day!  'Tis fair indeed.

CON.

It is, Promonius.  Ere now, in truth,
Mine eyes have ne'er beheld a sky more deep,
A sun more brilliant, nor a gentler breeze.
Methinks the gods have set aside this day
To honor that which is most dear to them,
The qualities which some say are the gods:
Love, beauty, light, joy, happiness, and peace.
No lesser day could speak so clear as this.

PRO.

'Tis true.  Yet I perceive that you have not
The happiness that such a day should bring.
Th' unhinder'd sun doth strike your countenance,
But there his rays expire.  There are no clouds
Above to mar the perfect azure dome,
But here's a cloud below.  If I may ask,
Why are you out of tune with this fair day?
Does its sweet music please you not?

CON.

                                                          Nay, friend;
For truly I am happy, in a way.
The private thoughts that now do trouble me
Arise from this:  All days are not this fair.
That which is honor'd now will someday cease,
And I — and we shall find ourselves alone
'Neath rainy skies, without a sun to shine.

But that is future.  As for now, 'tis clear,
And I must not detract with gloomy thoughts.
How is thy day?

PRO.

                          As brilliant as the gods
Ordained it be.  Have thou, perchance, observed
The wond'rous preparations going forth
For two days hence, when all the knights depart?
Their four years' sojourn here is now complete,
And, trained in all the art of chivalry
As only this renown'd castle can train men,
They now proceed to their own ventures bold.


The castle bids them glorious farewell
The first day of next week.

CON.

                                          Promonius,
Forget not altogether that we too
Shall be departing here a twelvemonth hence.

PRO.

I do remember, and anticipate
The joyous parture eagerly.  Thus now
I gladly view the ceremonious acts
And celebrations which, when next performed,
Will signal my commencement into that
Which we here please to style “the reál world.”
'Tis then that life begins, dear Constanes!
Behind these knights, who ride so grandly forth
But two days hence, lie all the jousting games;
Ahead lies combat!  No more fighting sham,
But actual battles with an actual share
Of glory for the man who conquereth!

CON.

And with an actual share of bitterness
For those who try the battle and who lose.

PRO.

What's this?  Again the cloud?  Mar not, my friend,
This joyous time with your forebodings sad.
Nay, go to Tappan, there to see the lights
That will illuminate the ancient square.
Or visit the knights' quarters as they test
The fit of their fine sable robes and helms,
Which they will wear on that commencement day.
There is excitement there; all hearts do glow.

CON.

Pray tell, be the young Earl of Pillsbury
Among them?

PRO.

                        Yes, he is; Lord Winston too.
'Tis strange that thou shouldst ask.

 

The references were to actual members of the Class of ’68.  I had further plot development in mind, but this is where I stopped.

 

TBT

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