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The Night City By W S Graham

November 6, 2021
by the gentle author

Inspired by W S Graham’s poem, I took a walk through the nocturnal city, following in the poet’s footsteps with my camera to create this photoessay as an homage to Harold Burdekin


The Night City


Unmet at Euston in a dream
Of London under Turner’s steam
Misting the iron gantries, I
Found myself running away
From Scotland into the golden city.

I ran down Gray’s Inn Road and ran
Till I was under a black bridge.
This was me at nineteen
Late at night arriving between
The buildings of the City of London.

And then I (O I have fallen down)
Fell in my dream beside the Bank
Of England’s wall to bed, me
With my money belt of Northern ice.
I found Eliot and he said yes

And sprang into a Holmes cab.
Boswell passed me in the fog
Going to visit Whistler
Who was with John Donne who had just seen
Paul Potts shouting on Soho Green.

Midnight. I hear the moon
Light chiming on St. Paul’s.

The City is empty. Night
Watchmen are drinking their tea.

The Fire had burnt out.
The Plague’s pits had closed
And gone into literature.

Between the big buildings
I sat like a flea crouched
In the stopped works of a watch.


Unmet at Euston in a dream…

St Pancras Church

I ran down Gray’s Inn Road…

High Holborn

and ran till I was under a black bridge…

Boswell passed me in the fog…

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

I hear the moonlight chiming on St. Paul’s…

Fell in my dream beside the Bank of England’s wall to bed…

Whalebone Court

…just seen Paul Potts shouting on Soho Green…

Poem copyright © The Estate of W S Graham

You may also like to take a look at

Wilfred Owen At Shadwell Stair

Richard Jefferies in the City

Isaac Rosenberg in Whitechapel

16 Responses leave one →
  1. John Foley permalink
    November 6, 2021

    What amazing photographs! Instantly reminiscent of the work of Harold Burdekin’s ‘London Night’. Please, how did you manage to capture that same effect? I’ve been trying to achieve that for ages…

  2. Peter Hart permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Enjoyed W S Graham’s poem and your beautiful photos. Thanks GA

  3. Janet Ellis permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Marvellous photos! London in a completely different light.

  4. Jo Bacon permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Beautiful post, thank you x

  5. November 6, 2021


  6. Mo Solter permalink
    November 6, 2021

    What a lovely way to start my Saturday! Fabulous evocative words and superb photograpy. Thank you.

  7. November 6, 2021

    The poem “The Night City” illustrated in the style of photographer Harold Burdekin — oh, if only I could take night shots like that…!

    Love & Peace

  8. November 6, 2021

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for sharing “The Night City,” so evocative of London’s essence channeling Holmes, Boswell, Wister et al. Wonderful accompanying pics too!

    Missing London today…

  9. Malcolm permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Excellent homage to Burdekin. A pity there’s no more fog or mist in London these days to give the same atmosphere as London Night but these shots capture the spirit really well.
    Many of the places Burdekin photographed have gone, the latest bit to disappear is that part of Bart’s Hospital with the semi-circular window in the wall, next to St Bartholomew-the-less. It was demolished about a year ago.

    In reply to John Foley, Burdekin’s original photographs were printed in photogravure, an intaglio process where the image is etched onto a copper plate, and then printed using a blue-black ink. The colour achieved by GA in these digital images is quite close to how the original prints look in the book, London Night.

  10. Adele Lester permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Evocative! Beautiful post.

  11. Lynda R permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Wonderful post! So reminiscent of Burdekin’s work, full of amazing memories of London past.
    This is a lovely extension of that – very well done 🙂

  12. Linda Granfield permalink
    November 6, 2021

    You’ve captured Magic.
    Empty London streets in this day (night?) and age?
    Unbelievable, but you’ve found them.

  13. November 6, 2021

    “a flea crouched in the stopped works of a watch”. Wow.
    And “passing Boswell in a fog”. Whoa. On his way to visit Whistler, no less. Its almost too tempting.
    If we could slip in and out of the fog, and pass shoulders with ANY one……Who, where, when,why? I can’t resist making my list. I’ve always said that if anyone provided me with a Time Machine, I would elect to ride down Fifth Avenue in an open carriage with Mark Twain.
    We’d whip right past the two lions out front of the Library — and just keep going until we found a tavern. But that was a broad-daylight wish — and now you’ve set the table for a “cloaked in darkness” option. My mind is spinning.

    Thank you, GA, as ever.

  14. paul loften permalink
    November 6, 2021

    Thank you for the poem and photos. They enhance the mystery of a London that few of us see.

  15. Ann V permalink
    November 6, 2021


  16. Cherub permalink
    November 6, 2021

    London has a real air of mysterious beauty at night.

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