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Poems About London

Table of Contents

  1. London Snow by Robert Seymour Bridges
  2. London, excerpt from Don Juan by Lord Byron
  3. London by Robert Leighton
  4. Return to London by Robert Herrick
  5. Westminster Abbey by Francis Beaumont
  6. Wood Street by William Wordsworth
  7. Wimpole Street, excerpt from In Memoriam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  8. Oxford Street by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
  9. Piccadilly by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
  10. The November Fog of London by Henry Luttrel

  1. London Snow

    by Robert Seymour Bridges

    When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
    In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
    Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
    Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
    Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
    Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:

    Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
    Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
    Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
    All night it fell, and when full inches seven
    It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
    The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
    And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
    Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
    The eye marvelled-marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
    The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
    No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
    And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
    Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
    They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
    Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
    Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
    Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
    'O look at the trees!' they cried, 'O look at the trees!'
    With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
    Following along the white deserted way,
    A country company long dispersed asunder:
    When now already the sun, in pale display
    Standing by Paul's high dome, spread forth below
    His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
    For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
    And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
    Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
    But even for them awhile no cares encumber
    Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
    The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
    At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

  2. London

    by Lord Byron

    from "Don Juan"

    A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
    Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
    Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
    In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
    Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
    On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
    A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
    On a fool’s head,—and there is London Town!

  3. London

    by Robert Leighton

    To live in London was my young wood-dream,—
    London, where all the books come from, the lode
    That draws into its centre from all points
    The bright steel of the world; where Shakespeare wrote,
    And Eastcheap is, with all its memories
    Of gossip Quickly, Falstaff, and Prince Hal;
    Where are the very stones that Milton trod,
    And Johnson, Garrick, Goldsmith, and the rest;
    Where even now our Dickens builds a shrine
    That pilgrims through all time will come to see,—
    London! whose street names breathe such home to all:
    Cheapside, the Strand, Fleet Street, and Ludgate Hill,
    Each name a very story in itself.
    To live in London!—London, the buskined stage
    Of history, the archive of the past,—
    The heart, the centre of the living world!
    Wake, dreamer, to your village and your work.

  4. Return to London

    by Robert Herrick

    From the dull confines of the drooping west,
    To see the day spring from the pregnant east,
    Ravisht in spirit, I come, nay more, I flie
    To thee, blest place of my nativitie!
    Thus, thus with hallowed foot I touch the ground,
    With thousand blessings by thy fortune crown’d.
    O fruitful genius! that bestowest here
    An everlasting plenty, yeere by yeere.
    O place! O people! manners! fram’d to please
    All nations, customes, kindreds, languages!
    I am a free-born Roman; suffer then,
    That I amongst you live a citizen.
    London my home is; though by hard fate sent
    Into a long and irksome banishment,
    Yet since call’d back, henceforward let me be,
    O native countrey, repossest by thee!
    For, rather then I ’le to the west return,
    I ’le beg of thee first here to have mine urn.
    Weak I am grown, and must in short time fall;
    Give thou my sacred reliques buriall.

  5. Westminster Abbey

    by Francis Beaumont

    On the Tombs in Westminster

    Mortality, behold and fear,
    What a change of flesh is here!
    Think how many royal bones
    Sleep within this heap of stones;
    Here they lie, had realms and lands,
    Who now want strength to stir their hands
    Where from their pulpits; soiled with dust,
    They preach, in greatness is no trust.
    Here ’s an acre sown indeed
    With the richest, royal’st seed
    That the earth did e’er suck in
    Since the first man died for sin;
    Here the bones of birth have cried,
    Though gods they were, as men they died;
    Here are sands, ignoble things,
    Dropped from the ruined sides of kings.
    Here ’s a world of pomp and state
    Buried in dust, once dead by fate.

  6. Wood Street

    by William Wordsworth

    At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
    Hangs a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:
    Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard
    In the silence of morning the song of the Bird.

    'Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees
    A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
    Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
    And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.

    Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
    Down which she so often has tripped with her pail;
    And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's,
    The one only dwelling on earth that she loves.

    She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
    The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:
    The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
    And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!

  7. Wimpole Street

    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    From "In Memoriam"

    Dark house, by which once more I stand
    Here in the long unlovely street,
    Doors, where my heart was used to beat
    So quickly, wailing for a hand,—

    A hand that can be clasped no more,—
    Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
    And like a guilty thing I creep
    At earliest morning to the door.

    He is not here; but far away
    The noise of life begins again,
    And ghastly through the drizzling rain
    On the bald street breaks the blank day.

  8. Oxford Street

    by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

    Life in its many shapes was there,
    The busy and the gay;
    Faces that seemed too young and fair
    To ever know decay.

    Wealth, with its waste, its pomp and pride,
    Led forth its glittering train;
    And Poverty’s pale face beside
    Asked aid, and asked in vain.

    The shops were filled from many lands,
    Toys, silks, and gems, and flowers;
    The patient work of many hands,
    The hope of many hours.

    Yet, mid life’s myriad shapes around
    There was a sigh of death;
    There rose a melancholy sound,
    The bugle’s wailing breath.

    They played a mournful Scottish air,
    That on its native hill
    Had caught the notes the night-winds bear
    From weeping leaf and rill.

    ’T was strange to hear that sad wild strain
    Its warning music shed,
    Rising above life’s busy train,
    In memory of the dead.

    There came a slow and silent band
    In sad procession by;
    Reversed the musket in each hand,
    And downcast every eye.

    They bore the soldier to his grave;
    The sympathizing crowd
    Divided like a parted wave
    By some dark vessel ploughed.

    A moment, and all sounds were mute,
    For awe was over all;
    You heard the soldier’s measured foot,
    The bugle’s wailing call.

    The gloves were laid upon the bier,
    The helmet and the sword;
    The drooping war-horse followed near,
    As he, too, mourned his lord.

    Slowly—I followed too—they led
    To where a church arose,
    And flung a shadow o’er the dead,
    Deep as their own repose.

    Green trees were there,—beneath the shade
    Of one was made a grave;
    And there to his last rest was laid
    The weary and the brave.

    They fired a volley o’er the bed
    Of an unconscious ear;
    The birds sprang fluttering overhead,
    Struck with a sudden fear.

    All left the ground, the bugles died
    Away upon the wind;
    Only the tree’s green branches sighed
    O’er him they left behind.

    Again, all filled with light and breath,
    I passed the crowded street:
    O great extremes of life and death,
    How strangely do ye meet!

  9. Piccadilly

    by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

    The sun is on the crowded street;
    It kindles those old towers,
    Where England’s noblest memories meet,
    Of old historic hours.

    Vast, shadowy, dark, and indistinct,
    Tradition’s giant fane,
    Whereto a thousand years are linked
    In one electric chain.

    So stands it when the morning light
    First steals upon the skies,
    And, shadowed by the fallen night,
    The sleeping city lies.

    It stands with darkness round it cast,
    Touched by the first cold shine;
    Vast, vague, and mighty as the past,
    Of which it is the shrine.

    ’T is lovely when the moonlight falls
    Around the sculptured stone,
    Giving a softness to the walls,
    Like love that mourns the gone.

    Then comes the gentlest influence
    The human heart can know,
    The mourning over those gone hence
    To the still dust below.

    The smoke, the noise, the dust of day,
    Have vanished from the scene;
    The pale lamps gleam with spirit ray
    O’er the park’s sweeping green.

    Sad shining on her lonely path,
    The moon’s calm smile above,
    Seems as it lulled life’s toil and wrath
    With universal love.

    Past that still hour, and its pale moon,
    The city is alive;
    It is the busy hour of noon,
    When man must seek and strive.

    The pressure of our actual life
    Is on the waking brow;
    Labor and care, endurance, strife,
    These are around him now.

    How wonderful the common street,
    Its tumult and its throng,
    The hurrying of the thousand feet
    That bear life’s cares along.

    How strongly is the present felt,
    With such a scene beside;
    All sounds in one vast murmur melt
    The thunder of the tide.

    All hurry on,—none pause to look
    Upon another’s face:
    The present is an open book
    None read, yet all must trace.

    The poor man hurries on his race,
    His daily bread to find;
    The rich man has yet wearier chase,
    For pleasure ’s hard to bind.

    All hurry, though it is to pass
    For which they live so fast,—
    What doth the present but amass
    The wealth that makes the past?

    The past is round us,—those old spires
    That glimmer o’er our head;
    Not from the present is their fires,
    Their light is from the dead.

    But for the past the present’s power
    Were waste of toil and mind
    But for those long and glorious hours
    Which leave themselves behind.

  10. The November Fog of London

    by Henry Luttrel

    First, at the dawn of lingering day,
    It rises of an ashy gray;
    Then deepening with a sordid stain
    Of yellow, like a lion’s mane.
    Vapor importunate and dense
    It wars at once with every sense.
    The ears escape not. All around
    Returns a dull, unwonted sound.
    Loath to stand still, afraid to stir,
    The chilled and puzzled passenger,
    Oft blundering from the pavement, fails
    To feel his way along the rails;
    Or at the crossings, in the roll
    Of every carriage dreads the pole.
    Scarce an eclipse with pall so dun
    Blots from the face of heaven the sun.
    But soon a thicker, darker cloak
    Wraps all the town; behold, the smoke,
    Which steam-compelling trade disgorges
    From all her furnaces and forges,
    In pitchy clouds, too dense to rise,
    Descends rejected from the skies;
    Till struggling day, extinguished quite,
    At noon gives place to candle-light.

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