At the Farewell to the Main Building ceremony on Sunday 22nd April, we heard Leung Ping Kwan (Ya Si) and Agnes Lam read their poems ‘An Old Colonial Building’ and ‘White Dust’ respectively. We are delighted to be able to reprint here another poem about the building, by our alumna Ellen Lai, which was first published in Dim Sum (vol. 5 2001). If you have any creative writing pieces about the Main Building, whether published or not, we would love to hear from you at


by Ellen Lai

Here time freezes
in the colonial age.
Red bricks think, the clock
sighs, slowly, as a sage.
Wind breezes in each corner,
from dawn to sunset.
Sun shines on the ivory tower,
in the east of the west.
Here I stand behind a stone pillar,
pretend to be a thinker.

All four courtyards look the same:
benches, balconies,
ponds and palm trees.
Everyday I lose my way
in this maze, but find my way
among van Gogh’s
shadows, Plato’s
whispers, Shakespeare’s
sneezes, and a dozen scholars who
muse with music, who
are bizarre, and romantic.
Here I pretend to be a
poet, for a season or so.
The world loves internet not
intellect, says we are fossils.
So I am, proud to be one.

At night,
cellos croon in Luke Yew Hall, once
fallen in the war. Diners
walk along corridors,
with water, wine and waltz.

Next summer, when
the apple still
lingers on the tree,
I shall leave with
an honor,
enlightened as
an unripe learner.


Published on: May 3, 2012 < Back >