Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Frozen Thames / John Gay

from Of Walking the Streets by Day
ll. 235-252

     O roving muse, recall that wondrous year,
When winter reigned in bleak Britannia's air;
When hoary Thames, with frosted oziers crowned,
Was three long moons in icy fetters bound.
The waterman, forlorn along the shore,
Pensive reclines upon his useless oar,
Sees harnessed steeds desert the stony town,
And wander road unstable, not their own:
Wheels o'er the hardened waters smoothly glide,
And rase with whitened tracks the slippery tide.
Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire,
And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire.
Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
And numerous games proclaim the crowded fair.
So when a general bids the martial train
Spread their encampment o'er the spacious plain;
Thick-rising tents a canvas city build,
And the loud dice resound through all the field.

John Gay (1685-1732)
from Trivia; or, The art of walking the streets of London, 1716

[Poem is in the public domain worldwide]

John Gay biography

1 comment:

  1. My GGG grandfather was a waterman- now I know what a waterman does... thanks George...