And the hapless soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down palace walls.
The memory aorta ruptured and that pair of lines haemorrhaged from it as soon as the bloodbath (and the ejaculation) came into view.
They’re the concluding lines of the third stanza of the greatest poem ever written about London.
A month later I’m still wondering. Were the “decision makers” aware of the connection? Did they have any idea what they were opening up to view? That power is engorged with blood, wallowing in it.
That they were turning the searing words of the most radical Londoner of them all into an unforgettable – and unforgivable – image.
Nothing else to say. How could there be? What else is there to say?
Apart from: here’s the poem. And when you look again at the image maybe reflect on this: the lone living being in this view of the red sea-girt Tower of London is an archer. See him? He’s high up on the palace wall. About to loose an arrow into the gore.
By William Blake
I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear
How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born Infant’s tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse
A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.