Thames traffic

4 May 2011 § 5 Comments


Glassy pleasure cruiser on its voyage through history
Under London Bridge and past St Paul’s great dome
With a cargo of tourists
Toting Nikon cameras,
Souvenirs and presents for the folks back home.

Streamlined Clipper ferry flagged with corporate logos
Surging down from Westminster towards the Tower
With a cargo of bankers
Braying into smartphones
Making reservations for the long lunch hour.

Solid blunt-nosed tugboat churning up from Docklands
Dragging rusty barges tied in pairs astern
With a cargo of refuse
Packed in containers:
Some to be buried, and some to burn.

John Masefield is among my favourite poets: having his narrative epic Reynard the Fox read aloud to me is one of my most cherished memories of school (RIP Tom Hoare) and really showed me how poetry can paint pictures and tell stories. I was reminded of one of his most famous poems, Cargoes, when I was in London yesterday, watching the boats on the Thames, and decided to write my own version. Sadly there were no ‘quinquiremes of Nineveh’ passing Bankside Pier at the time, so I’ve had to make do with the somewhat more prosaic material available.

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§ 5 Responses to Thames traffic

  • Narnie says:

    I tell you what – each stanza laps up to the riverside with a gentle but definite thwump to enforce the imagery of water and her passengers.
    This is what poetry is all about you know – seriously. It is about modern day reflections, whichever day you live in. Fab.

  • John Stevens says:

    I’ve just caught up with this (I’m behind with my reading). Beautifully crafted and great fun. I like those different cargoes – and this part of the Thames I know well (I used to work close by) so I can say that you’ve caught exactly the types of vessels on today’s river.

  • Such wonderful descriptions of the different forms of Cargo – how funny that people can be cargo too! 😀 This also makes London come alive by the water’s edge xx

  • gonecycling says:

    Thank you Chloe – I guess we’re all cargo on the tide of Time. My poem’s not nearly as good as John Masefield’s original, but I’m glad you liked it!

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