On Westminster Bridge

A shattered army, Thames’ filthy tonnage, tumbrils of carrion,
Not a beautiful spectacle
For the drinkers of history, or for me
Or my friends, this island’s parallel issues.
Wordsworth’s head went down here singing and the Isle Of Dogs ate it.
So now let us make our heads brass and proof,
O Thames
Plunder of your own defeat, O necessary sewer.
A woman somewhere upstream is washing the shirt of our future.
If you see her first she is powerless, full of blessings.
I have not seen her.
I see this disgorging of diseases, mud in a cupful,
And these refugees
Dragging the country down, without gesture of murmur, all heads bowed
In the lamentable press toward Atlantis
Under the bridges, with their attendant
Bladder dogs, their old corks, and condoms...
The swan-voiced Elgar’s decomposing—Let us all go down to exult
Under the haddock’s thumb, rejoice
Through the warped mouth of the flounder, let us labour with God on the beaches!
Daily in the scarfing water
The banners
And bandaging the shamed
Nameless battalions draining
Out of a dead lion—
To an officiation of blowflies.
Nightly this dark, feminine agony
Stemming from the womb no older than ever it was.
Other works by Ted Hughes...