Westminster Bridge 2020

I wrote this poem right at the beginning of the Covid crisis, before the lockdowns, and when Greta Thunberg was also hitting the headlines with her excellent speeches about climate change. I had a student sitting beside me at the time, and as he worked, I jotted down this poem too. I so often do similar tasks to them as a model. This was first published this year in Breath and Shadow, and it has also been broadcast on Radio Suffolk, where I gave an interview about it. Enjoy! (the subtitle is ‘Upon Wordsworth’s return’ and it is a pastiche.)

Westminster Bridge 2020, upon Wordsworth’s return.

Returning to the scene today at dawn,

I wonder that this view deserved a sonnet.

For suddenly I stand, watching an unfamiliar horizon;

the sun’s ruby-tainted orb struggling into sight,

wrapped as in a bloody shroud.

No majesty in these clouds which herald her appearance

like fallen angels clothed in stained white.

The silent city sleeps still:

but demons stalk the dreams of children

desperate to claw back hours and minutes lost

to Time’s indomitable stride.

Earth has oft seen long wars hard won;

but facing an invisible enemy,

this city’s mighty heart arrests, 

and love lies bleeding in the dust;

a far cry from humanity;

when we can only live to hope 

of walking hand in hand 

where pure skies may yet reign.

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