Ode to a Library
As part of my ongoing autumnal nostalgia, I’ve been dwelling in particularly vivid memories of Oxford libraries, and none more so than the Old Bodleian. I spent the better part of my Oxford time in the Upper Reading Room, looking out over the Radcliffe Camera while reflecting over The Exeter Book of Old English poems, or cloistered in a glowing corner of Duke Humphrey’s writing about Sea Voyages in ancient literature. I remember piles of dusty volumes, and the way the blue Camera dome looked in every light. I remember watching mist roll over the Exeter College gardens and Radcliffe square, and the particular echo of footsteps up the lonely, turning stairway. I remember looking out over the library as the sky turned deep blue in evening and the windows glowed golden, gazing at the spires dusted in snow, and wandering beneath the vaults of the Divinity Schools. I remember the smell and texture of vellum, the feeling of drawing my coat close against the cold inside, the way the shadows gathered between book stacks as night fell early in winter, and how every corner seemed to hold some secret enchantment, and every moment within was transformed into the beautiful, mysterious realm of the fairy tale.
I have spent many a studious day (and a few not so studious days) in libraries myself, though none quite so enchanting as these…
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