“Look, Stranger!”*

From Wikipedia:

“In 1879 (Battersea Bridge) was taken into public ownership, and in 1885 demolished and replaced with the existing bridge, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and built by John Mowlem & Co. The narrowest surviving road bridge over the Thames in London, it is one of London’s least busy Thames bridges. The balustrade is a distinctive Moorish-style lattice. Construction work was overseen by Bazalgette’s son Edward.

The location on a bend in the river makes the bridge a hazard to shipping, and it has been closed many times due to collisions.”

Battersea Bridge safety upgrade begins following death of jogger

From: Bohemia in London (1907), by Arthur Ransome:

“Afterwards two of his friends walked with him to the Embankment, as he lived at that time in lodgings on the south side of the river. Just as they turned up over Battersea Bridge, a man and a woman stepped across the road and waited in the lamplight. The man had a cap over his eyes, and a loose necktie. He was very straight, and walked more easily than a loafer. The woman had a scarlet shawl. As the three of them went by, the poet humming a tune for the others to hear, the woman touched his arm, and he looked round in her face.

“Good night, you fellows,” he said to the two who were with him, shook hands with them, which was not his usual custom, and left them, and went off with that strange couple. They stood looking after him in surprise, but he did not turn.

He disappeared from Bohemia as mysteriously as he came. That was four years ago, and not one of us has seen him since that night. Perhaps he will walk in again, with his boots worn out and happiness alight in his face. Perhaps he is dead. Perhaps he is wandering with his own people along the country roads.”

*From Wikipedia:

“In 1936 Auden’s publisher chose the title Look, Stranger! for a collection of political odes, love poems, comic songs, meditative lyrics, and a variety of intellectually intense but emotionally accessible verse; Auden hated the title and retitled the collection for the 1937 US edition On This Island.”

Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea.

Here at a small field’s ending pause
Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
Oppose the pluck
And knock of the tide,
And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
-ing surf,
And a gull lodges
A moment on its sheer side.

Far off like floating seeds the ships
Diverge on urgent voluntary errands,
And this full view
Indeed may enter
And move in memory as now these clouds do,
That pass the harbour mirror
And all the summer through the water saunter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: