From the Imaginative Conservative, by Jason Baxter:
And it’s not only American tourists who get this strange, melancholic feeling about Oxford. Even those iconic titans, Lewis and Tolkien, whose personalities have blended into the stones of the city, felt it, too. Tolkien, in his wonderful Anglo-Saxon manner, called Oxford that “Many-mansion’d, tower covered” city “in its dreamy robe of grey/… aged in the lives of men,/ Proudly wrapt in mystic mem’ry overpassing human ken.” In Lewis’s short poem “Oxford,” he describes this city as a place of deep serenity, like the perpetual movements of the city’s somnolent rivers: “A clean, sweet city lulled by ancient streams…/ A refuge of the elect, a tower of dreams.” Similarly, Hopkins called Oxford, “Towery city and branches between towers; / Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarméd, lark charméd, rook-racked, river-rounded.” And if you go inside the Ashmolean Museum, you will see any number of romanticizing paintings of the city that give you an Oxford, bathed in soft light. What the Pre-Raphaelites did for knights and ladies, these painters did for Oxford: they give a painfully nostalgic view of the medieval city. To such astute observers, Oxford is that city that mingles antiquity, the natural, and a keen sense of nostalgia.
Read the rest there. I concur.
Pictures (c) Stephanie A. Mann, from my week at the Oxford Experience in 2010.