Magazine article The Spectator

The River Gods

Magazine article The Spectator

The River Gods

Article excerpt

The rivers of the London Clay

Run, hidden from the light of day,

In cutting, culvert, pipe and drain

Below the overburdened plain.

They dive beneath the office blocks

To reach the tideway and the docks,

And wind discreetly through a maze

Of narrow streets and crooked ways.

The Lea's enclosed in locks and bars

To form a set of reservoirs.

The Effra's under Brixton Hill,

A spare storm-water overspill.

The Westbourne's in a cast-iron frame.

The Tyburn's just a bitter name.

The concrete even hoards and hems

The passage of the mighty Thames

To meet its sea in rage and fear

Between the barrage and the weir.

So London's challenging the odds

Of all its ancient river gods,

The deities whose fluent hand

Not only owns, but made the land. …

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