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Friday, 9 April 2010

On Hampstead Heath

File:Hampstead Ponds (171329664).jpg

in the city
and one old man
yesterday's news
shoes folded
worn socks dusty
and dim
or gray

Hampstead Ponds: photo by eisenbergalex, 2006


Curtis Roberts said...

grey/or gray

What made you think of that?

bill sherman said...

& N.B. Ralph McTell's "Streets Of London"...

Anonymous said...

From green to gray, the image is complete.

TC said...


This poem came of observations "from life", there on the Heath, one day in 1966, when I was as footloose and wandering as -- albeit a bit younger and perhaps a more hopeful than -- the destitute old man who is its subject.

As an American with at least one awkward foot in someone else's culture and language, at that time, I found when I came down to the end of the poem that I was caught between the two spellings, the American "gray" and the English "grey".

(Increasingly over the years, since then, I have opted for the latter spelling, by the way.)

Lucy, yes, thank you for your discerning eye -- that arc from the one colour to the other describes the progression and trajectory of the poem.

Bill, no other song could more fully capture this sort of moment:
a classic, for this and many another age.

TC said...


Two further thoughts about that great Ralph McTell song, before they escape that faltering elastic trap between the ears.

First, and coincidentally, the song has been in mind for some weeks now, ere since I posted this. Of which I take it to be, in many respects, an update.

Second, and also coincidentally, and speaking of ageless messages, re. the street person in the McTell video whose hand-fashioned begging board reads, candidly enough, "Why lie? I want a beer" -- last night, hobbling the beaten traces of these unsavoury downtown streets, I passed a young mendicant whose signboard displayed almost exactly the same message. With two small additional specifications: "Why lie? It's Fri. nite. I want a cold beer."

~otto~ said...

The ending of this also hit me hard and I am glad Curtis was smart enough to ask what made you do that. Education always swirls in the comments on this blog. Also thanks to Lucy for pointing out the color arc. Totally missed that. This is better than school.

TC said...


At least no spitball hazards.