Saturday, 24 October 2020

Shadwell Stair


Shadwell Stair by Wilfred Owen

I am the ghost of Shadwell Stair.
Along the wharves by the water-house,
And through the cavernous slaughter-house,
I am the shadow that walks there.
Yet I have flesh both firm and cool,
And eyes tumultuous as the gems
Of moons and lamps in the full Thames
When dusk sails wavering down the pool.
Shuddering the purple street-arc burns
Where I watch always; from the banks
Dolorously the shipping clanks
And after me a strange tide turns.
I walk till the stars of London wane
And dawn creeps up the Shadwell Stair.
But when the crowing syrens blare
I with another ghost am lain.

This is a ghost you can see and touch, with cold flesh and burning eyes. The dark city around the ghost is full of unsettling images and the sense that this place belongs to the dead more than the living, but that, where the living are, the ghost is also, and with dread effect.

© Amanda J Harrington 2020

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