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The words of John Masefield: my guide at USP for thirty five years


by John Masefield, poet laureate

[at the installation of the Chancellor of the University of Sheffield]

25 June 1946





“…There are few earthly things more splendid than a university.

In these days of broken frontiers and collapsing values,

when the dams are down and the floods are making misery,

when every ancient foothold has become something of a quagmire,

wherever a university stands, it stands and shines;

wherever it exists, the free minds of men,

urged on to full and fair enquiry,

may still bring wisdom into human affairs.

There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university.

It is a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know,

where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see;

where seekers and learners alike,

banded together in the search for knowledge,

will honour thought in all its finer ways,

will welcome thinkers in distress or in exile,

will uphold ever the dignity of thought and learning

and will exact standards in these things.

They give to the young in their impressionable years,

the bond of a lofty purpose shared,

of a great corporate life  whose links will not be loosed until they die.

They give young people that close companionship for which youth longs,

and that chance of the endless discussion of the themes which are endless,

without which youth would seem a waste of time.

There are few things more enduring than a university.

Religions may split into sect or heresy;

dynasties may perish or be supplanted,

but for century after century the university will continue,

and the stream of life will pass through it,

and the thinker and the seeker will be bound together

in the undying cause of bringing thought into the world.

To be a member of one of these great societies

must ever be a glad distinction…”


This poem was used so creatively here:

Click to access 93819-ChancellorFallSpeach2-24.pdf

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