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Poem by Louise Imogen Guiney


In a London Street


Though sea and mount have beauty, and this but what it can,
Thrice fairer than their life the life here battling in the van,
The tragic gleam, the mist and grime,
The dread endearing stain of time,
The sullied heart of man.

Mine is the clotted sunshine, a bubble in the sky,
That where it dare not enter, steals in shrouded passion by;
And mine the saffron river-sails,
And every plane-tree that avails
To rest an urban eye;

The bells, the dripping gables, the taverns corner glare
The cabs in firefly dartings, the barrel-organs air,
Where one by one, or two by two,
The hatless babes are dancing through
The gutters of the square.

Not on Sicilian headlands of song and old desire,
My spirit chose her pleasure-house, but in the London mire:
Long, long alone she loves to pace,
And find a music in the place
As in a minster choir.

O deeds of awe and rapture! O names of legendry!
Still is it most of joy within your altered pale to be,
Whose very ills I fain would slake,
Mine angels are, and help to make
In hell, a heaven for me.



Louise Imogen Guiney


Louise Imogen Guiney's other poems:
  1. Writ in my Lord Clarendons History of the Rebellion
  2. A December Walk
  3. On the Same (continued)
  4. A Last Word on Shelley
  5. The Old Dial of Corpus


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