A poetic response to A Genius Tour

We were thrilled to receive this poem from Wendell P Smith who came on A Genius Tour last week. The walk was led by Cathy Haynes specially for a group of visiting American science and arts undergraduate students. This walking tour of the creative process follows in the footsteps of those who’ve had great ideas on London’s streets. As we adventured from the Thames to Soho, we also tried out a couple of creative exercises. How perfect, then, that the experience should have inspired Wendell – one of the academics accompanying the group – to pen this wonderful poem!


A London Poem

By Wendell P Smith, September 2019


So let us go then you and I

From this square with the Tudor bandstand where we hear

The Russian word for professional is “professional.”

Let us stroll past the black leather dudes on the street where

A fashionable dog collar can make you a man-Prowler.

Down through the red arch past the great walls of

Frying oil and the profusion of jackfruit and durian and

Ideograms that must all be saying “good luck.”

To the square where they’ve put Nelson on a pedestal and the

Ranks of sterile figs — so far from home — cling for life and sun

To the walls of a museum where inside Turner’s phoenix of

Light as color claims that the new ship will rise from the old ship.

To the banks of muddy, rushing Thames to see, down the way,

Big Ben and Westminster surrounded by scaffolding.

Demolishing? Refacing? Or something not yet built?

Will the decay, and the rot, and the shoring up never end?

In the mean time for God’s sake let’s all hope

The constructors are considerate.