National Poetry Day: London Lines

By Lindsey Last edited 102 months ago
National Poetry Day: London Lines

The giant knitted poem! In My Craft or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas and over 1000 knitters. Photo by chrisjohnbeckett

Happy National Poetry Day! It was nice to wake up to the news that TS Eliot topped a poet popularity poll on the BBC website. Particularly apt for Londoners since he knew a thing or two about commuting:

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,

To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours

With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

Sorry. That's really quite a depressing slice of poetic genius. But then he probably got the votes for his cat poems, right? Still, we're pleased. To accompany this bit of The Wasteland we definitely want your top snippets of London poetry to share throughout the day. There's lots going on for lovers of lyricism but if you're chained to your computer keep us entertained with your favourite London verses in the comments below.

Last Updated 08 October 2009


John Betjeman - The Cockney Amorist

Oh when my love, my darling,
You’ve left me here alone,
I’ll walk the streets of London
Which once seemed all our own.
The vast suburban churches
Together we have found:
The ones which smelt of gaslight
The ones in incense drown’d;
I’ll use them now for praying in
And not for looking round.
No more the Hackney Empire
Shall find us in its stalls
When on the limelit crooner
The thankful curtain falls,
And soft electric lamplight
Reveals the gilded walls.

I will not go to Finsbury Park
The putting course to see
Nor cross the crowded High Road
To Williamsons’ to tea,
For these and all the other things
Were part of you and me.
I love you, oh my darling,
And what I can’t make out
Is why since you have left me
I’m somehow still about.


This always skips through my head when I'm there:

After the lunch

On Waterloo Bridge, where we said our goodbyes,
the weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I've fallen in love.

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. you're high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip. You're a fool. I don't care.
the head does its best but the heart is the boss-
I admit it before I am halfway across.

Wendy Cope