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Remembering the Purple Shadows of the Lawn

< by Brennan >

I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009. This spring marks four years since I walked down the Lawn at the university, cherishing each step, flooded with memories of my time there. As I thought back on it, my mind went to the poem we were given on our first day at the school, written more than one hundred years before our time. It rings true, even today, and the words carry with it the memories, the wisdom gained, the experiences shared, and the joy of growing for four years with the purple shadows of the Lawn gracing my memory.

the honor men

the University of Virginia writes her highest degree on the souls of her sons.

the parchment page of scholarship – the colored ribbon of a society – the jeweled emblem of a fraternity – the orange symbol of athletic prowess – all these, a year hence, will be at the best mementos of happy hours – like the withered flower a woman presses between the pages of a book for sentiment’s sake.

but. . . if you live a long, long time, and hold honesty of conscience above honesty of purse; and turn aside without ostentation to aid the weak; and treasure ideals more than raw ambition; and track no man to his undeserved hurt; and pursue no woman to her tears; and love the beauty of noble music and mist-veiled mountains and blossoming valleys and great monuments –

if you live a long time and, keeping the faith in all these things hour by hour, still see that the sun gilds your path with real gold and that the moon floats in dream silver;

then. . . remembering the purple shadows of the lawn, the majesty of the colonnades, and the dream of your youth, you may say in reverence and thankfulness:

“i have worn the honors of honor, i graduated from Virginia.”

by james hay, jr.

editor in chief

corks & curls, 1903

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