2014 Winning Poems

What the Time Tells

Midnight chimes. We've come to know the knell

which shakes the low-beam library attic eaves

amid the thought-stained rustle of the leaves

of musk-scent books. We've come to know it well,

the tongue-struck bell pronouncing its low peal.

The ripple shivers down the spires in rings;

from Michaelmas to May Week still it sings

and spins our college walls around its spiel.

I know that lodestar's moth-worn song – it’s all

within the lamplight halo of a page:

‘I came like water, and like wind I go.’

A chime is brief, and three years aren’t so slow.

New ears will fill this honeycomb, whose age

is in its walls, and hear the same bell toll.

by Tara Lee, Queen's College Cambridge


The Labourers to Proserpina

Lust buds in Pluto's eye. The screech-owl wheels

and banks to spy the spring in soaring flight:

another voyeur vested in the light

that funds her sculpted body, scripts her spiels

of stimulating lines. Her warm skin feels

as smooth as truth. Gods broker deals and fight 

for debts and powers according to their rites.

The God of Shadows skips the Styx and steals

her landscape for himself. Unhappy magnate,

her footsteps cannot gain this summer's sun,

and from its rootless depths the soil yeilds

no buds. What can we cut, so empty handed?

Why search for Proserpina? She's the one

who multiplies our hours in the fields

by Catherine Oliver, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge