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.

Clustering

Clustering

The world has gone weird:
When you switch the screen on,
any time, the news
contain news, the speeches
convey meaning, and the people
speak into the cameras as if
there were a point in speaking.
Can you see their smiles form dimples?

Like fog used to fill the roads,
so rumours waft and can’t be dispelled
that some representatives of the people
represent the people.
Like flocks of birds used to cover the squares,
so citizens cluster and can’t be dispersed,
until they witness those colours rising
which they have proudly painted themselves.

 Christina Egan © 2015

Outrage

Outrage

Every day now, someone
amongst the suits and ties
gets up and
says something.

Something
simple,
sensible,
and inconceivable.

Something
obvious,
overdue,
and improbable.

Someone sensible,
someone overdue,
someone outrageously
decent.

People lift up their heads and
listen as if
life
were meant to grow and thrive.

Christina Egan © 2015

For Jeremy Corbyn MP

“Jeremy Corbyn does not need to be theatrical because he is charismatic.

He makes a few simple statements and a thousand people jump off their sofas. It is not his policies that got him to the top but his personality!”

Christina Egan

Letter to the Editor, Evening Standard (London), 22. September 2015

(Please note I had written: “not his policies alone”!)