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.