I would like to know what "tucked in below the ramparts of the faculty grounds" means in the following sentences:

During those weeks, you and I would go to the university pool every now and then. It wasn’t far from the Old Town, tucked in below the ramparts of the faculty grounds. I remember its large reception hall and the strong smell of chlorine – how I liked that smell – and the cloakroom where we left our shoes in a shared cloth bag. In the changing rooms we undressed amongst other boys, drying themselves, joking around, unaware of their nudity, or used to it like something that was a given – strong backs and thighs and asses, skin smooth and covered in drops like forest leaves after rain. But in a strange way this didn’t excite me. When we were naked like that, changing, showering amongst them, we weren’t really ourselves. We were lighter, without consequence. We took off our roles along with our clothes, and only belonged to the anonymous world of bodies. And when we swam our rounds and I pushed through the water, I felt even lighter. It reminded me of our summer together, of the ease with which we’d floated across the lake. As I swam I dissolved in the water, and something came to me from the depths of my memory.

In this novel which is set in the 1980's in Poland under the socialist regime, where homosexuality was socially unacceptable, the protagonist Ludwik (a university graduate) left Poland in 1981 to live in the United States of America. And he remembers what it was like back then in Poland, where he used to go to the university swimming pool at Warsaw with his lover Janusz.

In this part, I wonder what the boldfaced expression means. Would that mean the Warsaw University was surrounded by ramparts back then, and that the swimming pool was right under the ramparts when viewed from the sky, on the map? Or would it mean that the height of the swimming pool building was lower than that of the ramparts...? And, by "tucked in," does it mean that the swimming pool was stuck in below the ramparts? Also, would it be alright to understand that "faculty grounds" means the ground on which the university (for undergraduates) is built, rather than the ground reserved for professors...?

I am an English learner from South Korea, so thank you for your patience in advance as I may not know obvious things. I would very much appreciate your help. :)

  • The older buildings of the University seem to have walls that might remind one of ramparts, as shown here. Feb 9, 2021 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


The first meaning of the verb tuck in (Wiktionary) is

To pull the blankets or duvet up over (someone in bed); to put (someone) to bed.

This is obviously not the intended meaning in the novel, but in the context of architecture, "tucked in" can be used to suggest that something is below something else. For example, the article Cool cottages in the Gower, Wales – in pictures contains the following example of "tucked in below":

Upstairs, tucked in below stripped wooden beams, is a galleried bedroom.

(You can see the "stripped wooden beams" when you look at the ceiling.)

Here is another example, which I found on the website of Cosmos Tours:

Tucked in below Mount Pelion, land of the mythical centaurs, Volos embraces the Pagasetic Gulf to one side and the dramatic, mountainous Pelion Peninsula on the other.

The city of Volos is situated at the foot of Mount Pelion. Similarly, the swimming pool is probably at the foot of the ramparts. Since the University of Warsaw was established in 1816, I'm not sure why it would be fortified with "ramparts"; the author may be referring to imposing walls, like those in the black-and-white photograph of the Pałac Uruskich.

  • I think this is tuck sense 8 "To thrust or put away (an object) into a close place where it is snugly held or concealed". With this sense, "away" is the most common preposition, but "in" is also possible. Feb 8, 2021 at 18:12
  • @GarethRees If that's from the OED, I have not access to it.
    – Tsundoku
    Feb 8, 2021 at 19:55
  • Wiktionary sense 2, "To push into a snug position" or sense 4, "To fit neatly". Feb 8, 2021 at 20:46

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