1 NOVEMBER 1963, Page 23

A Young Pedant

Harder and harder now to get back to the books Open and uninviting on his desk.

The hour of strain to point one sentence told On his pupils, too, surprised at his maundering Or broken words. Spurred on by his dear wife. To the crucial bar, he'd• pause or fall away Back to the text—Pomfret or Jenyns (Soame) Waiting to be edited, having to wait.

Until that day when, special leave besought, No excuse now, under colleagues' eyes, Studentless months ahead, he gathers his notes And leaps.

I have it now, his massive work Lying upon my desk, definitive

Of one who never tried to define himself. All the appropriate corrigenda staunch That trickle of blankest verse. A mighty book Su learned and so vast that once put down No power on earth could make you take it up.