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The (1927) Poetry of Wellesley College Crew

The (1927) Poetry of Wellesley College Crew


ellesley College was the first women’s college to offer rowing – in 1875. But its crew did not race another school (MIT) until the 1960s. Instead, its purpose was to promote grace and posture.

Wellesley Rowing Club Pageant, 1927

As it turns out, the Wellesley women also rowed to music, according to a 1927 brochure for the annual pageant, which lists music by Grieg, Saint-Saens, Wagner and “Folk-Songs.” Somehow, poetry was associated with each tune. (If anyone knows how the poems and the music worked together, please let me know!) One, entitled “Cleopatra” which went with a Gounod piece, goes like this:

Cleopatra, lift your hand and rouse.
The sleeping girl beside your golden bed,
That she may sing a silken song
Like that, Nile lisps along your barge’s edge.

(I checked for this poem on Google and could find nothing to match it, so perhaps it was written by one of the rowers?)

My thanks to John Schoonover, a history buff with the Wilmington Rowing Club, who  shared the small pageant brochure with me. Here are a few photos of pages in it:

(Published Jan. 12, 2017)