Poem: A River Then And A River Now. By Vic Keegan

Poem: A River Then And A River Now. By Vic Keegan

A River Then And A River Now


One is the Fleet which you cannot see

The other is the Wandle  flowing free,

The only one left that can still amaze

As the others did in olden days

Until the planners  faced defeat

And covered the stinking rivers with concrete.

The lungs of London were buried deep

And with angry sewage are now replete

Hiding from our prying eyes to

The sadness of the Fleet’s demise.

Oh my Walbrook, Effra, Tyburn, Westbourne,

Rivers of yesteryear and now forlorn.

Let’s pray for the resurrection of the dead

For every polluted river bed

But wait

Can our requiem for the River Fleet

Change its fate

To become a eulogy against defeat.

Look instead

At a river lately back from the dead:

The Wandle flowing from Croydon to Wandsworth

Was once one of the worst rivers on earth

When the industrial revolution

Destroyed its chalk stream with pollution.

Decades of toxic waste shattered a dream

Turning  the nation’s most idyllic stream

Into the most polluted in the land,

A mausoleum to progress unplanned.

But if you walk the Wandle now you’ll see

What other rivers still could be.

Volunteers working all out

Have reclaimed the river for returning trout.

Forgive me if I am sounding a bit lyrical

But is not the Wandle a riverine miracle?

Waters of wellbeing are flowing again

Nobody’s pain and everyone’s gain.


Photo from the South East Rivers Trust.

Buy a whole book of poems by Victor Keegan HERE.

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