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.
Thoughts and stones are laid out in lines
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
The light that flowed like into wine
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.
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
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
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.