The goldfinch plumage spreads like a kaleidoscopic cloud
And its splendid livery returns beneath its monochrome shawl of winter
Under the beam of a brightening light this spring morning
Lofty men gather in these hallowed halls
Under the endless domes and spires of the city
Where ragged monks gathered on the swampy banks
Eight hundred years ago to study the things unknown
And love the things unknowable , discover the unimagined
Dream the unfantisised ; rationalise the unfathomable
Give mathematical expression to postulations inexpressible.
The light is dappled and ripples through the great stained window
In the northern wing of Exeter’s Great Hall
The provost poised , in sombre black ;
A frozen statue of gravitas , unblinking unmoving , harnessing some great rebuke.
The vice chancellor speaks out to the gathered students from each corner of the globe
Once an Oxonian - he says - always an Oxonian
And before the students are paraded before the academic council
They curtsey in obeisance , but not humility
Under the scrutinised eye of unamused and sanctimonious glare
Of the proctor who by proxy nods in assent that each has met with
The august approval of the learned dons
The barren twigs once more , they bud
And the river sweeps under Magdalene bridge
Dark , brooding , contemplative ; but just as ever before
And the tide of knowledge amassed under the domes and spires
Sweeps back again to the strands of each corner of her former colonies .
Her bedraggled scattered empire and beyond
Back to the gravitational pull whence the student came
To flood the great unwashed barren shores deplete of learning
With the wisdom from these timeless temples ; these soaring spires
These ever incubating domes ; who distain levity
And conceal the fission of knowledge from where an energy of learning
Explodes each moment with a dignity that causes no sound
To disturb the troubled ear ; like the tree that falls unheard in an unwatched Forrest
More finches ,by the day gather in the hedgerows
And all along Broad street , people gather books
As the birds gather twigs and moss
One to incubate the mind unrehearsed
One to hatch their young
The other to collate the wisdom, condense and , extrapolate from it
Tear it asunder; re-seam and re format it again
Until the time does come for them to knock
On the great North Door of Exeter to gain entry
Under the North window in the Great Hall
And the goldfinches will again warble in their
Robes of gold and green and resplendent sheen of blue
And the river softly flow beneath Magdalene Bridge
And the Blackfriars off St Clements chant their matins
And return to their day of prayer and reveration
All things return , recycled, reinvented in every place
And each atom ,reorganizes in another jumble in the cosmos.
The Great Juggler ; Prime Mover ;Master of Dark Matter
Dark Energy and all the other feeble words we use to describe the ineffable
Just grins and cranks the universes we know and don’t know in places
We don’t recognise as having any space .
But mostly, on Exeter , Oxford in this
Green and pleasant Land .
Could this truly be Blake’s New Jerusalem
Hardly , But that notion gathers like
Like the dreams that swell within the great chests
Like sounds with a Great viola
Within the domes annd
Within the towers that soar
To God ; and That All Unknowable
Juggler of the galaxies ; the Great Unknowable Force
Who cranks up, without a single thought
Time and energy and motion and space;
Whom the humble monks bow-kneed supplicated
Eight hundred years ago, amidst the joyous birdsong
Of the Gold finch at their feet.
© Copyright 2016 donkylemore. All rights reserved.
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