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This past summer I spent eight weeks in Oxford, writing, walking, soaking in the beauty of the place (and getting literally soaked by summer rain on more than one occasion); it gave me the chance to see the great City of Dreaming Spires in different moods, different weather, to get a sense of the deep layers of history in this place.
June-July 2012 was a particularly wet season, and this particular sonnet is an evocation of summer rain in the city. If the audio player does not appear, click on the title of the sonnet, below, to hear my reading of the poem.
Off High Street, Oxford. Photo by Holly Ordway.
Below a blank and unreflective sky,
The air is full of rain: in shifting lines,
Almost unseen, it darkens brick and stone,
Scatters into droplets on the ivy.
A church-bell gives the hours; each solemn peal
Hinting at a jubilation waiting
Just outside our sight, beyond our hearing.
Again, again, once more; the last note fades
Into the brightening air. Few passers-by
Look up as sunlight glows in sheets along
The stonework walls, and strikes sharp notes of light
In scattered mirror-patches on the road.
I stand here still among the crowds; the dreaming
City wakes, then drifts to dream again.