I visited Cambridge for the first time in Easter 2014, with SJ as my sidekick. While of the two quintessential university cities it’s Oxford that has my heart, I have perhaps never been so enraptured with a building as I was with King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, which surely is a poem in stone and glass. In this sonnet, Wordsworth captures a little of that beauty, and reminds us to make our art the best it can be, to give it all we can.
Tax not the royal Saint with vain expense,
With ill-matched aims the Architect who planned—
Albeit labouring for a scanty band
Of white-robed Scholars only—this immense
And glorious Work of fine intelligence!
Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely-calculated less or more;
So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells,
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells
Lingering—and wandering on as loth to die;
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.