Wordsworth was right when he wrote that Cambridge is a ‘fairy work of earth.’ To find out what he meant by these words you need to visit the city. For me Wordsworth’s words stand for charm that the city holds. Cambridge is peaceful but also a creative place. It is in part of England’s history and its past but it also very much a city of today and the future. You will find a moment of quiet in Christ’s Pieces where you can lie down or have lunch, sitting on the grass. When you make your way to the Fitzwilliam Museum or walk along Trinity Street, you will see people drawing or playing music. The historic buildings of the University of Cambridge, which is the second oldest university in the United Kingdom, will take your breath away.
Like Wordsworth, I was struck by the beauty of King’s College Chapel when I found myself on King’s Parade, having walked through the centre. And like the poet himself, I felt myself being drawn to the place with an inexplicable force. Indeed, I sat in front of the chapel for a long time, contemplating the beautiful structure. I, like any other student of English Literature, wished to see one of England’s most beautiful architectural achievements and the university at which some of my favourite poets studied. Although you can’t visit all of the colleges’ historic buildings, you can see most of the halls and chapels and spend time in the courtyards which were walked centuries before by some of the greatest English writers, from Christopher Marlowe to Lord Byron and more recently by E.M. Forster, C.S. Lewis and Sir Salman Rushdie. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes met in Cambridge.
King’s College chapel is, without a doubt, the most stunning place in the city. Its history is long and interesting, suffice to say that it was Henry VI who began the building of the chapel and it was finished during Henry VIII’s reign. The structure’s Gothic vaulting, stained glass windows and meticulously designed royal symbols, such as fleur de lys and portcullis will make you want to look again and again so that you walk looking up all the time. Although all of the colleges are beautiful and worth seeing, for me it is the Fitzwilliam Museum which stays in my mind because of the grandeur of its facade and the beautiful marble interior and its fine art collection.
I understand Wordsworth’s infatuation with the city, its nature and streets. As I walk through yet another passage, lane or side street I discover new places, beautiful houses, another college. Cambridge makes one want to work and explore during the day and listen to the silence which seems to hover over the university colleges in the evening as the air gets chilly and the streets are almost empty.