Friday, 17 September 2021

Ode to our town

A POEM about Henley has been included in a new book called The English River by Virginia Astley.

She is a songwriter and musician who grew up by the river’s upper reaches and works as an assistant lock-keeper in the summer.

The book contains more than 30 poems and photographs, including some of familiar local spots such as Benson weir and Goring lock house, and has a foreword by Pete Townshend of The Who. The Henley poem goes thus:

That August we left the little park
upriver, clutching lattes,
cheese-and-onion toasties,
and clambered aboard the Maratana:
white, slim and plastic – Salters 70s model.

As we passed under Henley bridge
Isis gazed down
her hair streaming — like riverweed — from her face
as though she had just resurfaced
before the regatta stretch, heading for Temple Island

where a sign alongside the Leander Club proclaimed
111 Olympic medals and still counting. And later
I found pictures of winning oarsmen
Clad in the Leander’s
chinos and blades, matching cerise.

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