#352b* – KIPLING, Rudyard – The River’s Tale
The River’s Tale
- Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew–
- (Twenty bridges or twenty-two)–
- Wanted to know what the River knew,
- For they were young and the Thames was old,
- And this is the tale that the River told:–
- “I WALK my beat before London Town,
- Five hour up and seven down.
- Up I go till I end my run
- At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.
- Down I come with the mud in my hands
- And plaster it over the Maplin Sands.
- But I’d have you know that these waters of mine
- Were once a branch of the River Rhine,
- When hundreds of miles to the East I went
- And England was joined to the Continent.
- “I remember the bat-winged lizard-birds,
- The Age of Ice and the mammoth herds,
- And the giant tigers that stalked them down
- Through Regent’s Park into Camden Town.
- And I remember like yesterday
- The earliest Cockney who came my way,
- When he pushed through the forest that lined the Strand,
- With paint on his face and a club in his hand.
- He was death to feather and fin and fur.
- He trapped my beavers at Westminster.
- He netted my salmon, he hunted my deer,
- He killed my heron off Lambeth Pier.
- He fought his neighbour with axes and swords,
- Flint or bronze, at my upper fords,
- While down at Greenwich, for slaves and tin,
- The tall Phoenician ships stole in.
- And North Sea war-boats, painted and gay,
- Flashed like dragon-flies, Erith way;
- And Norseman and Negro and Gaul and Greek
- Drank with the Britons in Barking Creek,
- And life was gay, and the world was new,
- And I was a mile across at Kew!
- But the Roman came with a heavy hand,
- And bridged and roaded and ruled the land,
- And the Roman left and the Danes blew in–
- And that’s where your history-books begin!”
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