John Betjeman




Blackfriars

By the shot tower near the chimneys,
    Off the road to Waterloo,
Stands the cottage of “The Agéd”
    As in eighteen-forty-two.
Over brickwork, brownish brickwork,
    Lilac hangs in London sun
And by light fantastic clockwork
    Moves the drawbridge, sounds the gun.
When the sunset in the side streets
    Brought the breezes up the tide,
Floated bits of daily journals,
    Stable smells and silverside.
And the gaslight, yellow gaslight,
    Flaring in its wiry cage,
Like the Prison Scene in Norval
    On the old Olympic stage,
Lit the archway as the thunder,
    And the rumble and the roll,
Heralded a little handcart,
    And “The Agéd” selling coal.