Two Poems


by James Stevens Curl (February 2019)

The Embrace, Egon Schiele, 1917


An die ferne Geliebte


for Felis


When evening comes, and shadows spread,

Remember then the times we shared:

And in your thoughts imagine well

In tenderness, the Sanctum’s bell:

A silver note, a slight caress

A whispered thought, a wantonness

That promised life, and gave, and took

All things, compressed, within our book.


I love you now, by day and night,

At eventide, in morning light:

No hour goes by without your face

Before my eyes, in some dark place

With troubles shared, distress consoled,

In blessed thoughts dispelling cold

That tightly grips, in wild dismay

The agonies throughout each day.


May every blessing Life bestows

Make yours fulfilled, for my soul knows

None other that could bring me peace

So wonderful, so calm, to cease

All stress: may gods protect you safe

Keep you radiant, lovely waif,

My joy, my lady, heart’s desire,

For no-one else could tend this fire.


Sanctum Sanctorum, Hibernia,  MMXIV

Schiffe auf Reede, Caspar David Friedrich, 1816


for A M K P


A strangeness, other of that entity

as yet unformed, insinuates, invades,

with senses dimmed; and bitter longing trades

unconsciousness for lost tranquillity.

Soft voices mingle; garlands on that tree

exult in colour; indigo, the skies

above this Baltic earthly paradise,

are mirrored in the tideless, lulling sea.


Then agonies, in waves against the shore,

shatter dreams of distant sands in southern climes,

where ancient wickedness returned once more,

and Pan the Cloven laughed among the pines.


Elusive northern light betrays no key

to what disturbed the day’s sad mystery.

Fredericia, MCMLXVIII




James Stevens Curl is a leading architectural historian, and read for his Doctorate at University College London. He was twice Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Societies of Antiquaries of London and of Scotland, and a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. His most recent books are Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (with contributions on landscape from Susan Wilson), 2015, and Making Dystopia, 2018, both published by Oxford University Press.

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