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Poems

Oxford
E. H. W. Meyerstein

This is a typical poem from Oxford Poetry 1910-13, the first edition to be published. Probably originally written as an entry for the Newdigate Prize 1913, the subject of which was set as 'Oxford', the poem is set in Meyerstein's rooms (I.4) in the (misleadingly named) New Buildings of Magdalen College. Meyerstein went on to work at the Department of Manuscripts of the British Museum, became a bibliophile and made generous donations of rare books to Magdalen's library.


Rake up the fire; the bells that keep
Incessant guard from Magdalen tower
Have long since chimed the midnight hour,
While I was lying here asleep.

The flames have withered, one by one,
And now the lonely embers stand
Like temples on Egyptian land
Illumined by the sinking sand.

Bright was the moon when I began,
But long has drifted from the skies;
Upon the hearth my volume lies,
Its pages like a tumbled fan.

The jet-black coals are wholly turned
Translucent orange; early day
Will find a film of crumbling grey,
Sole relic of the pile that burned.

Rake up the fire; how chill the breeze;
The dawn is creeping to the pane
Despite the web of gloom and rain
That mists her passage through the trees;

Put by the volume, dream no more
The hearth is ice; too late for bed;
The starlings chatter overhead.
The morning trembles on the floor.