Wednesday, 29 June 2011

That sweet city with her dreaming spires

I have recently become addicted to evening walks around Oxford. June has been less than exciting here, weather-wise - at least, it's always seemed to be raining when I wanted it not to be. But the evenings have been long and quiet and golden.

The title of this post is from Matthew Arnold's Thrysis, a lament for his Oxford friend Arthur Hugh Clough. The famous lines are:

'And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,
She needs not June for beauty's heightening,
Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night!'

I've never particularly got on with Matthew Arnold, but Thrysis is nice in that rather laboured 'Victorian pastoral' way. (I love all kinds of Victorian literature except self-conscious classicism... Housman, I'm looking at you.) But I'm susceptible to nostalgia this week, and that might explain it.

Wherever you go in Oxford you see the same towers. Most of these pictures were taken from Christ Church meadow, but this one was from the path that runs along the Isis, the other side of Folly Bridge:

And this is Magdalen, of course:

And this, the moon above All Souls:

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