21 November 2011
the stretch of fleet river,
between holborn and the thames, was culverted in 1737.
pope is so sharply funny, satirically damning of the fleet, a pleasure to read this extract.
how concealed from daily notice the fleet river is these days,
and how apt an intersection, the holborn viaduct.
an intuition; there is something buried here worth digging for.
This labour past, by Bridewell all descend,
(As morning prayer, and flagellation end)
To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dikes! than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
'Here strip, my children! here at once leap in,
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
Or dark dexterity of groping well.
Who flings most filth, and wide pollutes around
The stream, be his the weekly journals bound;
A pig of lead to him who dives the best;
A peck of coals a-piece shall glad the rest.
photograph - a brickwork collage of the south-west viaduct gatehouse, 2011
image - a drawing
of the fleet river by 'mr crosby,' 1844
text - an extract from the dunciad
, alexander pope, 1728
Labels: london, poetry, quote, satire