On The Poetry of London Place Names

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by Jacob Sager Weinstein

As a youthful man of Acton, I once had a crazy dream:
I would act out every verb that lurks in London's naming scheme.
"I'll succeed in my ambition," I declared, "or go to heck.
I'll start Notting every Hill, and I'll start Tooting every Bec."
I went Barking, then went Wapping. I went Pudding, even, too.
Then I took a break by Downing several pints, and then I flew
back into the fray again, and started Belling Ham,
and Charing Cross, and Faring Dom, and let me tell you, ma'am,
Calming Ton's not easy, and Canning Town is tough,
and when time came to Hammer Smith, it started getting rough.

Doubts began to Crowder round me. Was I a Wiseman?
Some Hercules in Noblefield? Or just some Effingham?
Whatman, on hearing of my deeds, would not add grains of salt in?
But I had Lefevre. It was too late now for Halton.
My Bridewell tried to warn me: I was on a Primrose Walk,
Wychwood End in madness. I dismissed it as Mere talk.
I went Dalling, Darling, Dorking, even harder than before.
Goring? Loring? Moring? I did all of them, and Moor.
I grew Gaunt and I grew Weekley, and I heard my wife declare
she could not Wedmore foolishly; she left me, then and there.

I was Humboldt; she Mentmore to me than gold. My wet tears flowed.
I had left Bird-In-Hand Passage to walk down Bird-in-Bush Road.
A weaker man would turn to Pott and smoke his pain away,
but I sought out no Herbal Place. I shunned Bob Marley Way.
Instead, I kept on Stokenchurch, and Epping with a will,
And that was fifty years ago, and I am Epping still.
What first I thought would make for an amusing Amblecote
turned out to be a Moody Road on which I, wraith-like, float.
I can sense the Thyme is coming, when at last I shall be dead,
and I'll have a Plaistow succor Mysore feet, and Aitken head.
So do not Morna moment when the Reapers Close my fate;
I have found that Welcome Court that leads to Angell Town Estate.

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2 Comments

Justin said:

Another London placename trivia piece:

http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/meanings/401700.html notes '[a joke at Margaret Thatcher's expense] came in the explanation from an aide as to why she had the nickname of Daggers Thatcher. An interviewer asked, 'Is that because she has a reputation for stabbing colleagues in the back?' 'No, its because she's three stops past Barking.''

Karl said:

Can't believe you didn't manage to fit in Stanmore! Every time I wait for the westbound Jubilee line and the announce that "this train terminates at Stanmore", I can't help but think, "and I can't Stanmore of this!"

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This page contains a single entry by Jacob published on December 20, 2002 3:40 PM.

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