5 April 2009

The London Tourist Guide

Picture by Caroline

I have been fascinated by Postman’s Park which is a memorial tucked away in the heart of the City of London. There is an excellent blog describing it here. There are also interesting pieces on it here and here. This is my attempt to describe it, written (with apologies) in the style of one of my favourite poems.

The London Tourist Guide

“And here, ladies and gentlemen, only a stone’s throw from St. Paul’s

Is Postman’s Park. On two sides of this grassy strip the towering walls

Of City offices eclipse the sun. The winding path, the ferns and trees,

Stray tombstones like scattered rocks, echo a silent valley floor. Please

Shall we sit and rest a moment? Over to your right you’ll see

The memorial for which this place is known. Fifty three

Victorian ceramic tablets, crafted by Royal Doulton, plain in design,

Immortalising forgotten acts of self-sacrifice. They combine

To tell stories of selfless courage, a registry of heroic acts,

Each plaque detailing with brutal simplicity the facts

Of how one person gave their life to save another.

Harry Sisley of Kilburn, aged 10, drowned in attempting to save his brother

After he himself had just been rescued.” In those few words one cannot tell

The full story of the tragedy, the living hell

Of parents who on the same day lost two small boys

Drowned in each other’s arms. But Harry Sisley’s name lives on

Fired in clay for all to see, and still will be, when you and I are gone

And forgotten. Where are our modern heroes? The ice still cracks.

The fires still burn. Deep water still claims young lives. But would we act?

Or in our indecision simply call for help if faced with tragedy?

Enough. We must move on. Next on our tour we’ll discover the Old Bailey ….”