The Fire Sermon
The rivers tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.1
river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept
run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a
cold blast I hear
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
A rat crept softly through the vegetation
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
While I was fishing in the
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse
Musing upon the king my brothers wreck
on the king my fathers death before him.2
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast
in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rats foot only, year to year.
But at my back from time to time I
The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring4
Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring.
moon shone bright on Mrs. Porter5
And on her daughter
They wash their feet in soda water
Et O ces voix
denfants, chantant dans la coupole!6
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forcd.
Under the brown fog of a winter noon
Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant7
a pocket full of currants
C.i.f. London: documents at sight,
Asked me in demotic French
To luncheon at
the Cannon Street Hotel
Followed by a weekend at the Metropole.
At the violet hour, when the eyes and
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet
hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,10
The typist home
at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously
Her drying combinations touched by the suns last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agents
clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage
her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way,
finding the stairs unlit
She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one
half-formed thought to pass:
Well now thats done: and Im glad its over.
When lovely woman stoops to
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a
record on the gramophone.
This music crept by me upon the waters12
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City city, I
can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr13
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.
The river sweats14
Oil and tar
The barges drift
the turning tide
To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
The barges wash
Past the Isle of Dogs.15
Elizabeth and Leicester
The stern was formed
A gilded shell
Red and gold
The brisk swell
Rippled both shores
The peal of bells
Trams and dusty trees.