London Bridge

‘Tower Bridge’, Andre Derain (1906)

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many—buckling until it cracked.
    ‘London Bridge is falling down, falling down,
     London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.’
I had not thought death had undone so many.
It collapsed with weighty sighs, exhaled.
Down it went, from King William Street to Saint Mary Woolnoth, 
cracking a dead sound on the final stroke. The bells toll dong, dong, dong.
On nine? Or five? Hard to tell when you are flying.
There I saw the one I knew, I couldn’t stop him, crying:
“You! Hypocrite lecturer!-mon semblable,-mon frere!”
Famous last words, for a man quickly dying,
brains fried like eggs upon the tiles.
London Bridge, falling down!

In 1922, literature experienced a shift in its identity by the publication of one poem: ‘The Waste Land’. Confusing, confounding, radical; there are plenty of adjectives to describe the experience of reading the poem. Whether you like or loathe ‘The Waste Land’ (I lean towards the latter), its hard to deny that your first time reading the poem alters your perception of what the form can do.

‘The Waste Land’ took parts from dozens of other texts, taking lines and quotes from books, plays and poems, then weaving them into its very fabric. It created something new, so why not do the same with Eliot’s poem…

What do you think of this poem? Let me know in the comments below, or by liking this poem. Don’t be afraid of sharing your opinions!

© Thomas Gallimore Barker, 2021



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