The uncut lawn strewn with wrinkled walnut leaves
reminds me of the time of year,
of other Cambridge autumns
and winters in England,
before the desert travels
among naked peoples,
shaking on my manhood in dirty shirts
among difficult officials and uncouth friends.
In my room the gas fire sniffles,
cold air drifts between the window and the frame,
I watch the squirrel digging up the walnuts
where a week ago he buried them
and, mind's eye travelling, I penetrate the tangled branches
cross flooded greens to view
the gravid Cam go swirling under arches.
In the lecture halls,
still the same young faces, keen, intent,
a social grace that once I tried to imitate.
Immaterial now the vanities and loves of other years,
old punt laughter under willows
wringing out their shrouds in small bird choruses
or swans' wings low along dim waters.
New and old are here in me in Cambridge.
The moon sparkles college towers with ice
dark lawns lie quiet below golden windows.
Part and not part of all these conditions,
product and explorer,
I glimpse new aspects of college cobbles
and the grey shadows of old-time ghosts
looking out on a bleak new age.