London Under again. Enumeration, while powerful, is hardly an underused rhetorical device and the sentiment, inspired by the state of constant and hastened renewal that man forces upon his own place of habitation, is fairly common and widespread. And yet, we, the unrooted and the disenchanted, cannot help echoing the following with the opening lines of the one poem that surpasses all poems.
Gazing on the maps of the Fleet and the Fleet Valley and studying the archaeology of the area, can turn the development of London into a dream or hallucination. Buildings rise and fall, road surfaces are relined before falling into disuse, yards and alleys disappear and reappear, doorways and staircases come and go, lanes run through previously unoccupied areas, alleys become streets, wells and new drains and cellars are dug in profusion before being covered over. A dish appears bearing the picture of a Tudor woman, and an anthropomorphic head of the thirteenth century emerges from the mud. Buried in the debris of the Fleet were toys, vessels, tobacco pipes, wooden panels, brooches, pots, bowls, jugs, buckles, pins, and pieces of fabric. On one tile was imprinted the fingermark of a small child. It is liquid history.
Duh, say we.
...In succession Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass. Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth Which is already flesh, fur and faeces, Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf. Houses live and die: there is a time for building And a time for living and for generation And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.