28 August 2013 | By: Londonist

Win Tickets To An Evening Afloat With Sir Andrew Motion

City Cruise fleetLet the Thames stir you to verse and you could win two tickets to Thames Festival's Cruise in the Company of Sir Andrew Motion.

The former Poet Laureate will present an evening of poems and reflections on Saturday 7 September aboard City Cruises flagship vessel, Millennium Diamond. As the boat sets off from Tower Pier, you can look forward to a celebration of London's greatest waterway and the many myths, poems and stories it has inspired. Passengers will be offered a glass of wine on arrival and canapés throughout the cruise, with access to a cash bar.

Want to win two tickets to this delightful literary Thames Festival event? Pen us a few lines on the River Thames - be it rhyming couplet, haiku, limerick, sonnet or epic poem - and submit them in the comments.


Our friends at Thames Festival will pick their favourite after 5pm on Wednesday 4 September and we'll notify the winner by email.

Tickets for this cruise, which takes place on Saturday 7 September departing at 4pm cost £22 per person and can be booked at City Cruises website. You can also book for one in the company of historian Dan Cruickshank on Monday 9 September, departing at 7.30pm.

The Mayor’s Thames Festival runs 6-15 September 2013. Book now for walks and talks.

Londonist is proud to be Digital Media Partner to the Mayor’s Thames Festival.


The River Thames leads you to where you need to go,
Lights that could guide you to a place you call home,
Take in the scenery learn the roots
travel the boat and take the cruise
Learn what its like in a city that never sleeps
Open your eyes and see what its like
Not just on land and in light
But night and on water


i like the thames
the thames likes me
sham a lam a ding dong
1 2 3

Tim Macavoy

Why doesn't Thames rhyme with games?
I've made the project of this poem to project my thoughts on this...
When you read a word, you can take it as read that sometimes it doesn't quite behave as it should.
When you think you have the measure, it's slipped around the river bend out of sight.
Why doesn't river rhyme with fiver?
They're just there to confuse poets and their readers.
I'm not homophonic, but this has to stop.


The Whale in the Thames

It seemed like such a good Idea,
The whale thrashed and turned
In desperate energetic attempts,
Disaster looms as he is overcome by fear.

Vikings, Romans, Saxons
Great seafarers of time before,
All drawn to the enigmatic pulse of the city

See London, they say
Swim the Thames, they roar
Now this latest pilgrim runs aground
On the unforgiving shore.

Steve O


River of Fire

There’s a story I was told
About 90 days of snow
When the mighty river froze
When the northern winds did blow
From Chelsea Reach to Pimlico
River of ice and river of snow

This is the city that I love
This is the city that I’m dreaming of
And the bridge comes down
And the wheel goes round
In my green and pleasant town

Then in 1999
On December’s final chime
The river caught alight
From Waterloo to Wapping Beach
From Pimlico to Chelsea Reach
Fire in the water
River of ice and river of snow
River of fire and river aglow

Iain Weir

The Thames is a really big stream,

Bridges, landmarks and banks are it's theme,

It runs right through town,

And sometimes it's brown,

'Cos the sewers have burst at the seam.


On the thames is a sports club called Vesta
well known for their love of fiesta.
Ive lost count of the nights
and the lash monkey fights
that have left me in need of siesta.

(thanks to dave.)


The river runs on wide and weary,
Hushing and whispering tales of old,
The rise and fall of waves are teary,
London's rich and watery soul.

Stealing moonlight from the street,
Winding through the city's wonders,
Under bridges, under feet,
granting hearts to grow fonder.


The Black Bouy sits
stationary, tethered fast
one to avoid.


City's quiet heart
Ferries vessels to and fro
Until she runs dry

Ryk Morgan

River Thames
You're a winner!

Julie Rose

In Windsor Max remembered his desire
for a boat

and the man said it'd cost £35,000 a
boat like this

when we asked him.

Max said theres always a fat man in a
dinghy somewhere

when he was out of earshot.


Through London flows the River Thames,
Which runs straight past Parliament and Big Ben,
Past the London Eye too,
But not near the zoo,
Its estuary runs all the way to Southend.


As dawn stretches and fleets through the majestic buildings that line the water streets, I am able to catch the Thames when he’s still in his sleep.  

Gently placing my boat on the black velvet that is only ankle deep I can then glide out and along the serpentine course.  

As I softly stir the water he begins to truly grip my oars with an epic force, surging and swirling as he twitches to wake.  

Sending me on my way,  homeward bound I find myself beneath the hustle and bustle of the London sound.   Emerging from the tideway  I turn and tip my humble hat,  thank you Thames for this morning and I will see you at the next day break.

Paul Mortimer

In the dead of night ~ only the Thames ~ talks to the moon


Sometimes I stand on Battersea Bridge at night
Watching the water flowing fast underneath
Imagining Whistler bobbing about in a small boat
As he absorbed this darkness into memory

Moving to the old church of Turner and Blake
The hush of car free roads now settling
I look for where Badrices īeg could be
Before returning home down a brightly lit road

Sam Berry

To Walk Along A London Beach.

To walk along a London beach,
To get away from city speak,
To leave my troubles here again,
To float them down the rivers end.

The Thames I go to clear my head,
The water thinks just of the dead,
Both here before and after us,
The river hides a mournful lust.

I walk alone at night and watch,
The boats they pass and stir the docks,
A grey horizon chills the air,
No better place to voice your cares.

"Why must this life be so damn hard?"
I shout across into the dark.
The water roughs and sweeps away
My darkest thoughts and all the pain.

Though I should know nothings for free
A voice it rose inside of me,
The rivers answer to my call,
A promise here to end it all.

I hear the sounds of men before,
Of wasted love and broken thoughts.
They live inside this London Mirror,
The grimy glass to make you shiver.

A breeze it blows, I say my prayer,
I step into its knowing lair,
The city lights, they bend and drip,
The foamy mess I take a dip.

The freezing wet engulfs my bones,
A splashing force, I walk alone.
She'd caught me with her strangest charm,
Then pulled me down with a monsters arm.

In my dying breath I thought I saw,
A face a top the London shore,
A saddened one, was from the past,
I knew it then, I'm not the last

To walk along a London beach
To feel the grasping waters reach,
To leave my troubles under its bed
To take your soul and drown you dead.

Hels Bels

The ancient river rolls knowingly past old and new,
Secrets lurking in the soft folds of her silted curves,
Waves of pleasure enrich the waters as passengers float above,
Treasures wait to be discovered beneath the grimy flow,
Sparkles of sunlight reveal jewels atop waves as she swells,
The life force of London, an artery flowing blood to the city’s veins.


I'm not a poet
And you know it
But this ticket will get me on the Thames

Moira L. Morrison

Feelings bubbling up when I see the working waters of the Thames
become thoughts and ideas I can return to it as gems.


When I lived in the middle of England

Down in a valley, a damp dip

With mist and flooding, I thought

I was surrounded by water

And being apart from the sea was fine

But now I live where the Thames

Becomes the sea

There is heat and light and sun

And the tides roll over the sand

Boats queue by the sunken warship

And there are times when we remember

That the town could blow

From tons of American bombs

On a good day I can see the wind farm

And once, just once, the sea was turquoise

With sand and birds and mud

Shining patches of water

Rippling reflecting sunsets

Light and land with no edges

And days and days of unspeakable joy


Ever more chartered, the Thames flows on

regardless of barges, tourists, police boats and cruises
never alone, and never empty, and

never aware of her own muddy beauty.


You bawdy mistress
River of story and song
Keeping our souls strong


The tide is out, the beach exposed,
And Keith is stirring indisposed,
To rouse himself from toasty bed,
And travel pressed to the undead,

Our Father Thames has no such qualms,
His dirty eddies stir the calms,
Of bridges which they pass beneath,
Transporting one of Keith’s used sheaths,

Keith considers not the Thames,
As he coughs up morning phlegm,
And sets to make a breakfast brew,
To scare off bitter workman’s blues,

Keith believes it is the moon,
That turns his wife into a loon.
And heaves salt water far upstream,
So effortless with glow and gleam,

In summer Keith’s daily commute,
Can smell a bit of rotting fruit,
The ants begin to burrow down,
His face becomes a bitter frown,

The water’s flow is quite sublime,
It weaves through London’s centre line,
It passes wharves and piers and gulls,
And then at midday seems to lull,

Keith slaves the morning hours away,
Then stops and by the river lays,
To eat a lunch of jellied eel,
And watch the passing paddle wheel,

Keith’s post-lunch motivation slumps,
But the faithful lunar pumps,
Begin to drain the Thames downstream,
And out towards the great North Sea,

As energy and river ebb,
Keith switches focus to the web,
And channels creativity,
To mindless facebook repartee,

The river sucks urban debris,
Keith’s body waste a mass of green,
That goes to sea and mixes there,
With all the wide world’s surplus fare,

Come six o’clock Keith starts to drift,
Back out the door from his day shift,
He crams his suit back on the train,
Where body odours truly reign,

Young Keith gets home to his fair wife,
Anaesthetised to working life,
By a sickly dull regime,
Of shit TV and cheap ice cream,

The sun and moon spin round and round,
And Keith accumulates his pounds,
And in the east the river lies,
Unquestioning of how or why.

Yolanda Foster

The night descends over London's roofs
Like a woman's underskirt
over lover's mild reproof

River Thames your freedom beckons
as we count our next meeting in seconds

River wild river free
long may you roam

celebrate you as home.


Pola Stawiany

The mighty river's got to stop -
it cannot go forever just like that!
It hasn't paid the council tax in ages
And threads shamelessly through all zones
with no pecuniary contribution to the pool.
How dares it have the edge (and curve)
to make the government a fool,
infringing on our rights and banks and sea?
Get thee under parliament'ry rule!
This nonsense holds no water and should cease.


Think of London with no Thames
A birthday party with no friends
A piece of string that has no ends

Think of London with no boats
A party bedroom with no coats
A brilliant poem that has no votes

Mr Moth

Popped from my shell,
By action struck;
Popped out of a self-made bubble.
Forced to walk ancient paths
made modern, by face alone,
and modern roads burned
by history's glow.

The rain clings,
in the city's roaring deeps,
its whipping tail snatching at us all,
refugees from a land of open vents
and steaming warmth.

And what premonition
took me on time's bridge?
That small educated guess
to furl my dipping umbrella and
venture gingerly across,
against great Thames's squalling robe of grey.

In rain-slippered shoes,
on slick white metal,
glimpses of the river,
in the time between raindrops.

The dome of Wren, hunched at my back,
the tower of Gilbert-Scott
a colossal finger in the mist,
a cathedral to the rational,
flowered in art.
Its shadow,
falls across me
and I pass into faceless Southwark.


In central London every foot of river has a tale to tell of former days – palaces, docks, cathedrals and churches and fine bridges shown off on summer days. Past London Bridge the river widens as it sweeps down to Greenwich.

nicola white

" I stand on the foredeck in contemplation of this rhyme,
and find my mind taking me back to a time,
when this noble old river because of its scent,
would cause eyes to water in Parliament.

To port I see schooners and freighters; a yawl, a rig
As sailors cavort to an accordion jig
I see stevedores shouting and cursing and frigging
As men busy about in the web of the rigging

To starboard I see as part of my dream
Barges and lighters all moored close abeam
Yet further beyond the range of my sight
Lies a portal to the oceans and all of their might

Too many a man, and many there be
seek wealth and adventure upon the sea
Thus I imagine myself on the Roi de Belgie
About to embark on my own "Cherche de Vie"

I awake from my trance with a feeling of pity
to the glass and steel towers of our perfidious city
these latter day cathedrals of steel not mortar
our hopes and dreams sacrificed at the electronic altar

so my thoughts up to date from my prior contemplation
ask whatever did happen to our great sea-faring nation
The shame of this country and all whom it hurts
reminds me, life's mission after all is to find ones own man called Kurtz.

melissa terras


Holding my breath, Waterloo to Embankment
The river above us, crossing all angles,
Some mountain king or faerie spell
As fear is: truth, or superstition.

Carol Long

Thames...The smell calls to me first, it smells of....
adventure, secrets both happy and dark, fun and mystery, London...home.
Sometimes slow and majestic, gently lapping at gravel or mud.
Sometimes in a hurry, rushing and foaming, greedily eating up the banks as it passes.
Sometimes sparkling, twinkling with the gentle splashes of its residents.
Always telling a story, the ending never ending.
I never tire of watching, listening, as the story unfolds and I long to be a part of it.

George M

Ancient water aisle
Where groceries have occurred
Chopping capital


The solemn, majestic Thames
From which all life in London stames
A watery riddle
It twists through the middle
Of one of the world's great games

Lindsey Berthoud

Thank you everyone for your fantastic responses! We are awaiting a decision from our friends at Thames Festival - and will report back soon as we can.