He thinks in lines
And vexing vertices.
His shining mind always inclines
To maths and magnitude, minute degrees
Of formulae, and the impossibilities
He has deciphered with those symbol-signs.

The architect
Perceives the things the rest
Of us forget. He can erect
The best and boldest buildings, which attest
That all the tensile, tractile talent he’s possessed
Since childhood has allowed him to perfect

His mastery
Of masonry. Astute
Ideas spin out – the faster he
Conceives of his constructions, his acute
And obtuse rudiments, the sooner he can root
His schemes in pargeting and plastery,

In gypsum moulds
Releasing casts which act
As replicas. Each model holds
The keys to understanding: what is lacked
And what’s expendable’s confirmed, and the exact
Proportions finalised. If he beholds

The opulence
Of Soufflot’s Panthéon,
All marble-hemmed magnificence
Inspired by Greece and Rome – a paragon
Of peerless neoclassical finesse perched on
A crypt (Voltaire is interred there), immense

In scale and size –
He marvels at its sheer
Dimensions. Well-informed and wise,
His aptitude’s unrivalled (his career
Relies on how his works objectively appear)
In every obscure, abstruse enterprise.

When he recalls
The cloistered colonnades,
The mansards, mezzanines, and malls,
The buttresses and boundless balustrades
Which won their ancient architects grand accolades,
Or how the Parthenon unfurls and sprawls,

Or how Labrouste,
Wren, Garnier, and Jones
Had calculated and deduced
The smartest, shrewdest ways to lay the stones
(In subtle, sandy, milky-coffee-tinted tones)
When paving the palazzos they produced,

He is inclined
To imitate their skills
And let the structures he’s designed
Be panegyric odes to -burgs and -villes
And -boroughs that they built. He resolutely wills
His works to symmetry – walls all aligned

At intervals
Vitruvius advised.
With functions and reciprocals
He’s shaping great Renaissance-authorised
Creations, like those Michelangelo apprised:
Vaults, viaducts, and voussoired vestibules.

His blueprint sheets
Use coses, sines, and tans:
The corner where each border meets
Is perfectly precise. His vision spans
From chart to site, inciting panoramic plans
Of grinning grids which lead to neat conceits

Like roomy domes
Which crown a fine façade;
Curved crescent rows of townhouse homes;
Prim promenades; a Paris boulevard;
Four paralleling porticos that shield and guard
A quad, like some concurrent palindrome;

Cathedral naves
Where glass-lit choirboys send
Out song, and incense wreathes in waves;
And mirrored silver-glimmer halls which rend
Each rapt reflection, making every shadow bend.
All these began as simple timber-staves.

He fashions dreams
With rafter batten-boards.
He gives them sturdiness, and seems
To realise fantasies. His art affords
Him awe, acclaim, well-paid commissions, and awards.
He made his own home’s frame from diamond beams.


Annabelle Fuller reads Classics and English at Magdalen College, Oxford, where she is a member of the Florio Society. Her poems can be found in New Poetry Magazine, the Oxford Review of Books, and the Society of Classical Poets Journal. She won the Forward Young Critics Prize in 2017 and the BBC Proms Poetry Competition in 2018.

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10 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    Annabelle Fuller, YOU are the architect! This poem’s perfect syllabic structure (4,6,8,10,12,10), its rhyme scheme (ABABBA), its tremendously clever use of alliteration (“Vaults, viaducts, and voussoired vestibules.”), . . . all of it fits together seamlessly and skillfully to form a real showpiece. Impressive, well-executed, and masterful. Well done.

  2. James A. Tweedie

    Annabelle, If a person is known by the company he/she keeps then your architect is in very good stead, indeed! The poem mini tour de force in form, concept, content and execution. One question, is this a set poetic form or one original to you?

    • Annabelle Fuller

      I don’t believe it’s a set poetic form – I was experimenting with creating my own formalist scheme of rhyme and rhythm.

  3. Lisa

    Love this poem, Annabelle. Shared with a number if my architect friends.

  4. Monty

    Well, I’ve only just spotted this absolute masterpiece, Anna (I’ve just been in Nepal for 12 weeks with limited wifi); and, my, am I glad I did spot it.

    It’s so unique: in the subject-matter and in form (I can’t stop looking at the form; it’s so sophisticated). It contains clear diction throughout; and consistently strong rhymes.

    This could well be the most unique piece of work that I’ve seen on the SCP pages; and I fervently hope to see more of your work in the future.

    • Annabelle Fuller

      I really appreciate that comment, Monty. I’m certainly hoping to create more formalist pieces like this one.

  5. Cyrus J.

    Ms. Fuller, I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best poems I’ve ever read in my life. I’ve read a few of your other works too and they’re all really good. Will you be compiling all of them together into a poetry book anytime soon? I’d be your first customer.


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