The Genesee

by THOMAS THACKERAY SWINBURNE (1865-1926)

THO’ many fair and famous streams
Beneath the sun there be,
Yet more to us than any seems
Our own dear Genesee.
We love her banks and stately falls,
For to our minds they bring
Our dear old alma mater’s halls,
Where sweetest memories cling.

No castled crags along her way
Romantic splendors cast;
No fabled or historic lay
Recalls the golden past.
But more than battlemented walls,
Or legends they may bear,
Are alma mater’s vine clad halls.
And memories lingering there.

A mill wheel overgrown with flowers,
Mid groves of branching green,
A vision fair of vernal hours,
Is mirrored in the sheen;
And in our hearts where’er we roam
An image there will be
Of our belovéd college home
Beside the Genesee

The University of Rochester adopted Thomas Thackerary Swinburne’s poem as its alma mater and also dedicated a rock near the river to his memory. The poet died in the Genesee River on December 17, 1926, when he jumped from the bridge. The University’s dedication page says that, according to legend, his body was recovered and his ashes were placed in a bronze box that was buried beneath the rock. This proved to be untrue when, in 1968, the boulder was moved in the course of construction and there was no bronze box to be found.
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