An Academic Argument, a poem by Aaron Marchant at

An Academic Argument

An Academic Argument

written by: Aaron Marchant


Rheidol College Oxford. Thursday 18th May

There has come to my attention, in discord with polite convention
a letter, in which you defame, my books, my lectures and my name
It’s been my custom to condemn, those who attack ‘ad hominem’
and so might be expected to, extend this principle to you

However, it seems only fair, that I give you the chance to share
an explanation of your action, (and ample time for a retraction)
For should the views that you opine, be at some variance to mine
It is my most earnest intent, to contemplate your argument

I shall not question your cognition, should you hold to your position
nor assume that your conclusions, be born of malice or confusions
No straw men will I fabricate, your point of view to obfuscate
neither engage in puerile antics, of splitting hairs over semantics

And should the doctrine you propound, be demonstrated to be sound
or if in error, I be found, by reason’s virtue would feel bound
to thank you for your intervention, for it has ne’er been my intention
to perpetuate ideas untrue. I trust the same applies to you?

Thus, in the interest of expedience, I would welcome (at your convenience)
assuming that you’re not averse, an opportunity to converse.
Or failing this, wait to receive, your correspondence (by your leave)
that I may understand you clearly, until then Sir,

Yours most Sincerely

Professor Reginald Newbolt-Gray…


…Tuesday 23rd May

Dear Sir,
I was most aghast, on receiving yours, of Thursday last
to find my name connected to, vociferous attacks on you
I can declare this accusation, entirely without foundation
for until your communication, I had not learned of your vexation

At first, I was somewhat perplexed, that you might think I’d write a text
so disrespectful of your name, and not assume instead it came
from a student within the ranks, (they will indulge their childish pranks).
So on this premise, I resolved, that I would see this mystery solved

And thus, ventured on your behalf, to make enquiries of my staff
who (sensible of my concern), enquired further in their turn
And through ‘connections’ to the college, there has now come to my knowledge
suggestion how confusion started, (I hope it won’t leave you downhearted.)

You see Sir, It’s long been my way, when faced with bulging letter tray
to sign my initials alone (a habit, I no more condone)
which made you think that script unruly, originated from ‘yours truly’
Yet it would seem, (no guarantee, but comes on good authority),

the letter you declare malign, came from more ‘regal’ hands than mine.
Beyond this, I’d best not conjecture, (besides I must prepare a lecture),
but full assurance I will give, to sign my name in full forthwith
that I shall not further embarrass.
Kind Regards

Henry Rawlins-Harris (HRH)

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