Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Streets of London

I have seen nervous men, heard voices with no power,

hands all trembling and at what cost

to bone and sinew, human tissue,

but you Ralph Mctell, now is your hour.

Two guitars lean silent throats;

their strings, when touched by a thousand fingers,

dazzle evening, angels, winds;

querulous, quivering, tingling notes

and an avalanche rumbles under chimes

gathered in the belly – a deeper voice

of tender waves, ramming my heart,

“I will show you


to make you change your mind”


  1. Two guitars lean silent throats;
    their strings, when touched by a thousand fingers,
    dazzle evening, angels, winds; - I want multiple evenings here. That's because it must have been your original intention anyway.
    I am totally lost on your subject here but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the word play...Play? Sounds a bit silly for what I'm alluding too...word sorcery, no. Word sculptures, closer but still not it. You know what I'm talking about

  2. Hey James - thanks - poem needs a little more work. I was aware that the thousand fingers was potentially confusing. He did tickle the strings many thousands of times in a single evening! I'll take another look. Also, it helps if you're familiar with 'Street of London' .. the folk song?! Glad you felt at least touched by the wordplay. I'm going to re-draft!!! John

  3. I like it but as JamesH says, I was a little lost, too. But so many delicious words. Can't wait to read another draft!!

  4. I love the quote at the end... "I will show you something to change your mind." In different contexts, from different people, those words have such power.

    For instance, Timothy Leary? Einstein? Freud?

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. I'm struck by the line "Two guitars lean silent throats" Undeniably lovely language.

    What if you wrote a poem using that as a starting point?


  6. Ralph Mctell
    does sing it well!

    Streets of London is an all-time great song.

  7. I could hear the song as I read the poetry..Agree with nwfreelancer a superb line wish I had thought of it.Regards j.

  8. Ralph Mctell's iconic folk song, "Streets of London", itself has some fantastic lines in it. If I'm not wrong, I suspect John is trying to celebrate it and echo it's sentiments, which give recognition to the unrecognised, to the anonymous heroes and, for me, the "Streets" are those of the East End of London. Any attempt to have a dialogue with this song, is inevitably poetic. Power to your elbow, John.

  9. I think you did a great job, here. Yes and l remember that song.

  10. I know the song in another version but this is still the same song, so the subject of the words is clear for me.