Louis Kahn: In Praise of shadows

Emerald Liu

Louis Kahn (1901–1974), sketch for a mural, c.1951–1953. Ink on paper, 298 × 400 mm. DMC 1382.

The pale white touch

The most exquisite glow

and depth of shadows

An immutable mystery

in the crossbeam of tranquillity

simply vanished when

the sunlight flooded the


Of this small corner

Where we as children would

feel an inexpressible chill

While waiting

so quiet and pliant to the touch

As a petal of a stray flower

overcome by an unexpected silence

When watching our ancestors through

the window

searching for invisible details

Now I only need to pause before it and

I forget the passage of time

This poem was part of the exhibition on Louis Kahn, Inversions: Contemporary Art inspired by the Architecture of Louis Kahn in 2019, curated by Melinda Wang.