Midway down the Street I found myself lost.
The dark and stony mansions I could not tell apart,
For I was an ignorant frosh.
“You there! Froshling! Knowest where thou art?”
From forth the oaken doors he staggered
With a belch and with a fart.
“Be not alarmed! My guise, though haggard,
Belies my intent. Virgil I am, a senior, and your guide.”
I shrugged and followed anyway, not sure what just occurred.
Virgil led me down the Street, unknown clubs on every side,
Away from wholesome campus carried by each stride.
CANTO I: CHARTER
“Ten clubs there are along the Street,
Ten sorts of sinners, ten frightful fates.
At Charter the members love to eat.”
Virgil led me through the gates
Into a house both bright and clean;
A scent of bacon rose from the plates.
“Charter’s food is the finest cuisine,
Delectable dishes, but the glutton’s doom,
Put in the farthest club by gods malicious.
Members feast and gorge ‘til there’s no room,
Meet a dolorous end to what began delicious:
The walk back is burdened by what they consume.
Forced to waddle home, bellies burdened with mass,
It’s a frightful long way to haul your fat ass!”
CANTO II: CLOISTER
“Princeton’s Cloister Club is no convent of nuns–
You’ll see lots of guys, and not one wears a shirt;
Floaters and Boaters need to show off their ‘guns.’”
One girl wore a trashbag; saran wrap was her skirt.
Sweaty dudes surrounded us, packed on every side.
Two wore lime green speedos; they made my eyes hurt.
“These Boaters fight an endless tide
Beneath the lash of the coxswain’s tongue,
Their tortured cries for rest denied.”
“I’ll admit,” said I to Virgil, “these guys look pretty fit,
But rowing’s a bitch, and lots of work- I think I’d rather quit.”
CANTO III: CAP & GOWN
The Wrathful (under renovation)
“Tall ballers, swift runners, fencers of savage renown–
Cap’s filled with Kappas, and athletes who know
How to mess you up if you throw down.”
Downstairs we found a plywood wall. “The taproom! Where’d it go?”
Virgil ran straight into it; he bounced back quite confused.
He turned and said, rubbing his head, “They’re renovating the floor below.”
“I don’t see how this is Wrath– the sin that you’ve accused
Does not describe this club’s condition.”
“I’m just reaching for a stereotype– all the good ones have been used.”
“This wasn’t very specific, Virgil. I can’t tell your disposition.”
“Chill frosh, and cut me some slack- this club is in transition.”
CANTO IV: COTTAGE
“Behold, freshman! The gates of Cottage, from iron wrought
Suffer none but Guests to pass.
Good thing I put us on the list- it would suck if I forgot.”
The club is richly furnished, and its fountain drips with class;
The taproom has big-screen TVs,
Upstairs, handrails of burnished brass.
“This is the library,” Virgil said, “where Cottage takes its ease.
These books don’t get much use these days
Folks are content with gentlemen’s C’s.”
“Here’s the desk where F. Scott penned This Side of Paradise;
The present club, though not so smart, still looks very nice.”
“Oldest of the clubs this is; Ivy Club, the Vine.
Behold the teeming throng ahead!
But I can get us past the line.”
The portal was held against us– “Maroon pass,” the bouncer said.
Virgil offered him two slips. “These are burgundy, you peasant!”
“Like there’s a difference!?” Virgil asked. “I’ll text my friend instead.”
The door opened a crack, and I stepped back- out walked a girl quite pleasant.
“Hey Beatrice, can you get us in? And forgive me for last night?”
“Oh Virgil, you’re a shitshow, but it’s not a party ‘til you’re present.”
“Welcome, frosh, to Ivy, land of the socialite,
A club built out of intrigue, though its walls are made of oak.
Welcome, little froshy, to the social ladder’s height.”
“Enjoy your time at Ivy Club, whose paneled halls are darkest oak.
They think quite highly of themselves, but they’re mostly high on coke.”