This is the Suburb

This is the Suburb

The houses lined up like birthday cakes:
brick cubes covered in cream-coloured paint,
brick cubes covered in brick-coloured paint,
giraffe-neck chimneys as quaint decorations.

The gardens stretching like flower-boxes,
each bush in blossom a witness to life,
the trees at the corners picked from a toy box,
perfectly round and perfectly green.

This is the suburb. If only you saw it
the very first time, descended from Mars,
flown in from the desert, arrived from abroad,
you’d clap your hands in wonder and joy!

Christina Egan © 2017

Front gardens with brick walls, flower pots, rose tree.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

England’s endless rows of terraced homes and front gardens, the brick walls and painted ledges and long chimneys — insignificant or actually invisible to their inhabitants beg to be photographed by the strolling visitor or newcomer.

The all-year-round greenery and the abundant flowers in England — even around the giant capital city — will amaze those whose home countries are hotter and drier or else colder and harsher, or whose cities have less green and more stone.

I have read that an immigrant from Bangladesh asked herself if English people are poor because many did not paint their brick houses! I have heard of other Central Europeans who, like myself, took the spring flowers in front of public buildings for artificial ones!

House of Books

Drawing of the mechanics of a loom (yarn on rolls, without the frame)House of Books
(British Library)

On the grey carpet,
grey shapes intersect,
shadows of shoulders,
of hands, of heads:
minds overlapping
for a moment.

From the white walls,
rapid shuttles ricochet,
shiny yarns interweave:
Very large bookcase with foldable desk surface and chained volumes (drawing)threads of voice,
trains of thought,
embroidering the air.

Built of a million bricks
glowing at the ashen junction
is the House of Books;
built of a million minds
is the fabric of the pages,
of the screens, of the scrolls.

Christina Egan © 2017

Illustrations of Loom and
Bookcase from the Wikimedia

There’s Door on Door

There’s Door on Door

There’s door on door of painted wood
with potted plants and polished brass,
there’s row on row of gabled roofs,
there’s brick and plaster, hedge and grass.

There’s floor on floor of balconies,
above the din, above the dust,
inclusive of commodities,
there’s stone and concrete, steel and glass.

There’s door on door, there’s floor on floor,
but not for me, but not for me –
there’s brick and brass, there’s steel and glass,
exclusive of humanity.

There’s door on door, there’s floor on floor,
but not for us, but not for us –
one has a sofa in a store,
one has an archway in the dust.

Christina Egan © 2015

Ode to London Wall

Ode to London Wall

Moss is conquering your broken stones,
weeds are rooting between your bricks;
but you still stand tall, Wall,
facing the winds, the seasons, the years.

The round foundations of your towers
harbour herbs now, neatly labelled;
but your walkways bore watchmen once,
to guard the goods going round and the people.

You lie at my feet now, tall Wall,
I look down from the walkway above you;
but when I step down by two thousand years,
I see you could shelter me still or crush me.

And then I seem to remember –
we have met before, Wall –
you guarded me indeed –
and I guarded you!

On the treacherous clay we erected you,
in the obnoxious fog and sleet:
even and straight and strong as a rock,
forming a line in the marshy meadow,

forming a square along the vague river,
forming a knot in the net of roads,
from London to Chester and York,
from Paris to Sousse and Palmyra.

O Wall of soldiers and explorers,
O Wall of merchants and accountants:
yes,
you still stand tall and you talk,
you tell me to tell your story to all.

Christina Egan © 2015

High wall of neatly piled stone and brick in the midst of the city

You can see a section of the Wall of London and learn more about it in the Roman Galleries of the Museum of London. A visit there inspired me to write these lines. I talk to the stones as they talk to me; and I pass their story on.

Photograph: Roman city wall near Tower Hill Tube station,
by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz).

London Wall Had Fallen Down

London Wall had fallen down,
brick by brick and stone by stone;
in the crenellation’s crown,
storks and starlings built their home.

London Wall stood in the mud,
but we fixed it brick by brick,
and we filled the wasteland up
with new lanes across the grid.

London Wall was melting down,
but we used it stone by stone;
and we built a bigger town
on the ground of proud old Rome!

Christina Egan © 2015

After the end of the Roman Empire, the Roman City of London was left uninhabited for generations, while a new city sprung up next to it; later, the original precincts became the centre again. This area is now known as ‘The City of London’, although it forms only a small part of the centre of town.

Musical score of 'London Bridge is falling down'

 

This little song alludes to the nursery rhyme London Bridge is falling down.