Juvenilia- Given in the Michelmas Term (2005/6)

I was lucky enough to go to Uni at Downing College Cambridge, thoroughly conservative it might have been, but it also had the most extraordinary neo-classical design. The photo above illustrates the point.

In my final year, I made a close study of the interplay between people and place, natural and created beauty that could be found in the quadrangle. Given in the Michelmas Term (so called because it felt as if the poetry was gifted to me from outside rather than written from within) is the product of that study.

I (untitled)


Thoughts and stones are laid out in lines

And overlaid

And overlaid

Until the damming of the dark devoid.

Colossal workers build spans of T-girder and weld

Between no thing and another.

Gaps and uncovers are tighter and tighter elided

Vacuum and edge collided to collapse

And the stateless second to relapse

Into time.

The light that flowed like into wine

Passing graceless

Between the bricks,

And the bubbling minute

Between the bricks,

Will enter the empty among matter

To shine, imperceptible

Between the edges (almost perfectly aligned)

Of an architecture not quite true.

II (untitled)

There is no metaphor for light

Fading sun into sandstone.

Graded not in gentleness

But discretely split so fine

As to seem constant variation.

The pale clear of the sky cuts shadows on the grass

Absolute, long cast lines.

That sharpen old stone into edges

Picked out fine on the razor-cut lawns.

III Two Elms

Two elms, one bare,

The other bearing some red life yet,

Arch, each one edged in pools of little light,

Over the gravel.

No gardener guessed

In planting two like seeds

The envisioned symmetry snapped

By vagrant nature.

They rise, poised unequal,

Misted by breath

Almost left in the air

By plays of shadow

And an allusion of dark

To depth.


By impaired vision they draw the more perfect eye.

IV The Practice Singer

The gravel grows thick this time of year

Gleaming in a wade of leaves and lustreless grass

On chapel steps, three sides of a perfect geometry enclose

And a perfect sandstone symmetry flows out

Across the well placed trees in proportion,

Into the fourth.

The voice of the practice singer,

And of the architecture that framed

Exact echoes from the corner and eaves

off the altar and out

Rushing in little fellowships

And whirlwinds across the framed open space.

V The Symmetric

The Chaos observed in spanning trees

And gravel flows

Is patterened


Adherent to the unpredictable rule.

The unmeasured symmetric

Laid upon earth is bent

And surging beneath the sky

That spills a single slight

From the low West.

The integrity of line and border is stressed

As fractal clouds curl in precise coordinations

A billion tiny straightnesses that sum to the curve.


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