Friday, February 10, 2006

Oxford and Harry Potter

It’s gloomy outside, and this feels like a good time to reminisce about Oxford.

I just gave a presentation about the English department to a group of Alumni Distinguished Scholars, and I’m feeling cheesily enraptured with ivy-covered university walls. Someday I’ll photograph the hall where I work, one of the oldest buildings on campus.

But for now, Oxford will have to do.

Think Harry Potter (the dining room at Christ College is the model for Hogwarts’ dining hall).

Think broom flying class in the quad. (Yes, those scenes in HP were filmed in Oxford.)

Think black flowing gowns of Oxford dons.

BTW, I apologize for the unsightly red date on my photos. I have not taken the time to photoshop them out. But I have changed the setting on the camera! Too late for these, I'm afraid.

a poem:

Another birthday, as a tourist

How old is old, really?

I mean, I'm not as old as Oxford,
the oldest English-speaking university
in the world, this stone
waterfall by the river.

Yet I am older than
most of its students, in fact
old enough to have parented them,
these little green fish.

I want another past
with Oxford in it, a feast
of books, black robes, steam
of intellect fogging the quad
and my glasses

the glory

of the morning, the glinting fish
swimming through it
before the sun, before
the sun goes down.

It's always this way,
something green and alive
against something old, cracked
and still. 

Ruth M. 2005


Ginnie said...

First of all, I had no clue about the connection between Hogwarts and Oxford. I'm guessing Mark knew?

2) We LOVED Oxford when we visited a couple years ago, but weren't able to get into the quad that Sunday. Nor did we go into Christ College. But we DID see and take pics of the pedestrian "bridge."

3) At least we know the photos are yours :)

4) Your poem, Ruth, takes my breath away. I'm so glad you included it. I hope you do more of that! (You might want to add your name and/or date to it--so we all know IT IS YOURS!!!)

Ruth said...

There are actually quads in every college, and as happened to you, I couldn't get into many of them.

Glad you liked the poem. I hear you about claiming it. I don't want to leave my whole name here, but I suppose I could just put "Ruth 2005." I'll at least do that. Or maybe this is a good time to come up with a pen name. :)

Donica said...

Your post makes me want to take another trip to Oxford. Maybe spend a weekend and have time to really see the detail. It all seems so blured in my mind.

I think a pen name is appropriate...go for it!!

Ruth said...

Maybe I should start a survey/contest. Do a post and ask for suggestions for a pen name, and I'll pick my favorite.

Ginnie said...

That's an idea, Ruth! And come up with your own as well, so we can put IT into consideration. :)

Nathan said...

i spent a week in Oxford when my best friend, Riley, was studying there on the Rhodes scholarship he recieved as a top-ranked senior at West Point. it was great, i even got to hang out a lot with his study partner, Chelsea Clinton, and her boyfriend Ian. fun! here are my pictures, if you're interested:

(no, there are none of Chelsea) :)

Ruth said...

Nathan: Thanks for sharing the photo album. Nice shots of London too.

I have a dream to do photo-travel by theme. At least one week in each city. Like lampposts in Paris, gates in London, arches in Oxford, doors in Amsterdam, bridges in Florence -- and that's just Europe.

What about hats in Sao Paulo, trees in Saporo, hands in Cairo, t-shirts in Winnipeg!

Won't someone pay me to do this?

rachel said...

Nate, even the toilet was lovely:)

Ruth said...

Rachel: I almost made the same comment! :)

Ginnie said...

Ruth--could we do that dream job together?????

Ruth said...


And in between picture taking, we'll eat!

Nathan said...

hehe. rachel, i took those pictures while i was in my digital camera obession days. i snapped shots of everything, including, er, toilets and ovens.


donica said...

If you and Boots are traveling around to capture the cities by theme...and then going to stop for food.....I WANT TO GO!!! Is there a job for me to help????

Ruth said...

Donica, you're great at spotting things. You could be a photo scout!

And along with that, some heavy relaxation, I would think.

I can just see you and Don falling asleep in those Tuilleries chairs now . . .