Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lunchtime Ennui

The sun shines through a gap in the maple
After days of cloud and intermittent rain,
Arenberg Castle, her tiled roofs and high gable
Appears, as if in a dream,
Reflected in the limpid waters of a stream.

Ochre brick and black slate,
Onion-domed turrets surmount
The North and South tower.
A golden eagle, the family coat of arms
Is all that remains of
The local seat of power.

These days it’s Kasteelpark Arenberg,
Home to Science and Engineering, KU Leuven.
Look closely, and you might find
Tweed coat, elbow patch,
Frizzled hair untamed,
An academic
Deep in thought and lost in time
In the mullioned windows framed.

Stepped-gables and gothic balconies
Look out over the manicured lawns
Squawking wildly, amongst bushes of rose
There’s a waddling goose-train
Out for their post-prandial stroll.

Lovers lie on the green,
Bodies entwined, hands in folds private,
Each the other’s world entire.

Equally oblivious, magpies hop about,
They dig out tufts of grass
As they hunt for their little worms.

A path through the hedgerows,
Care-worn flagstones,
Centuries of thoroughfare.
It once saw horse and stage-coach
Palace intrigue, a duel or two.
Witness today to traffic mundane,
Harried students, rickety bikes
And the occasional Great Dane.

A one-legged crane stands statuesque by a pond,
Her pointed beak drooping slightly,
While water-fowl chug about ungainly,
Heads in robotic to-and-fro,
Their ripples distort
A riot of reflected rhododendron
Like some 19th Century impressionist masterpiece.

The castle sits in a forest of birch
50 feet tall, green below, red on top
Streamers of ivy along their sides,
They cast soothing shadows dappled
Over the long, straight bike route,
A family of ducks in the Djile alongside,
Mum, dad, hatchlings nine.

A solitary lark calls out
From her high-altitude nest
Her trilling notes
Rising higher and higher,
She brings to mind
The Lark Ascending,
Ralph Vaughan Williams'
Symphony pastoral.

The carillon chimes,
Shakes me out of my ennui
It’s half-past three,
And "Back to research!"
Her melodious notes decree.

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