The Adjunct’s Dulce et Decorum Est

Enoch Root’s nod to Rudyard Kipling over on our Facebook page reminded me I still had this lying around. I apologize in advance for my Latin. It’s so rusty it’s crumbling.


John Singer Sargent “Studies for the Gassed.”

Bent double, like bag ladies beneath our burden,
Uninsured, spreading germs, we slog through sludge,
Till from blank stares of debt-burdened students we turn
And towards our fourth class today begin to trudge.

We march half-asleep, mumbling over books
But limp on, ill-shod, nearly broke; half-blind;
Drunk with fatigue; uncaring of the looks
Of tired, outstripped colleagues who drop behind.

A class! A class! Quick, all! – An ecstasy of emailing,
Waving 10-page CVs and cover letters just in time
To snatch it from the hands of some new flailing
Grad student flound’ring in academe’s slime . . .

Dim, as through misty windshields and thick light
As under a green sea, I see us drowning
In debt from school loans, credit cards, our plight
Invisible or mocked, tenured faces frowning

If we dare to speak too loud, demand fair pay,
A contract, an office to meet students in,
While the administration sets in play
Another scheme to cut department budgets thin.

If you could see, for every class, the work
We struggle to keep up with, papers marked
Tests graded, lessons that we dare not shirk,
Weeks that stretch to eighty hours unremarked,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To scholars ardent for some desperate glory,
The New Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro studiosi sacrificavi.

–Lee Kottner, with sincere apologies to Wilfred Owen


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