51. London Bridge


London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all night,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.

London Bridge is one of the famous landmarks of London. The history associated with this rhyme goes back in time to the First Century, when Romans occupied London. The bridge was then built with wood and clay.

The Viking invaders destroyed the bridge in the 1000s. Many fires broke out on the bridge and many disasters struck the bridge. Every time the bridge was damaged, it was rebuilt and fortified with the different materials available at that time,as listed in the rhyme itself!

A strong bridge complete with a draw bridge was constructed in 1176. The great Fire of London in 1666, weakened the arches and foundation of the bridge.

In 1820, a new bridge was built to the North of the old bridge. It was opened in 1831 and the old bridge was demolished!

The suggestions for improvements stated in this rhyme run thus:

The bridge built with clay and wood should be replaced by one built with bricks and mortar.

The bricks and mortar bridge should be replaced by one built with iron and steel.

This should be replaced by a bridge made of silver and gold! To guard against theft, a night watchman must be put on duty with enough tobacco and a smoking pipe, to keep him awake all night!

Visalakshi Ramani

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