[Page 140]


1 IT is a goodly sight through the clear air,
2 From Hampstead's heathy height, to see at once
3 England's vast capital in fair expanse,
4 Towers, belfries, lengthened streets and structures fair.
5 St. Paul's high dome amidst the vassal bands
6 Of neighb'ring spires, a regal chieftain stands,
7 And over fields of ridgy roofs appear,
8 With distance softly tinted, side by side,
9 In kindred grace, like twain of sisters dear,
10 The Towers of Westminster, her Abbey's pride;
11 While, far beyond, the hills of Surrey shine
12 Through thin soft haze, and shew their wavy line.
[Page 141]
13 View'd thus, a goodly sight! but when survey'd
14 Through denser air when moisten'd winds prevail,
15 In her grand panoply of smoke arrayed,
16 While clouds aloft in heavy volumes sail,
17 She is sublime. She seems a curtained gloom
18 Connecting heaven and earth, a threat'ning sign of doom.
19 With more than natural height, reared in the sky
20 'Tis then St. Paul's arrests the wondering eye;
21 The lower parts in swathing mist concealed,
22 The higher through some half-spent shower revealed,
23 So far from earth removed, that well, I trow,
24 Did not its form man's artful structure shew,
25 It might some lofty alpine peak be deemed,
26 The eagle's haunt with cave and crevice seamed.
27 Stretched wide on either hand, a rugged skreen,
28 In lurid dimness, nearer streets are seen
29 Like shore-ward billows of a troubled main,
30 Arrested in their rage. Through drizly rain,
31 Cataracts of tawny sheen pour from the skies,
32 Black furnace-smoke in curling columns rise,
33 And many-tinted vapours, slowly pass
34 O'er the wide draping of that pictured mass.
[Page 142]
35 So shews by day this grand imperial town,
36 And, when o'er all the night's black stole is thrown,
37 The distant traveller doth with wonder mark
38 Her luminous canopy athwart the dark,
39 Cast up, from myriads of lamps that shine
40 Along her streets in many a starry line:
41 He wondering looks from his yet distant road,
42 And thinks the northern streamers are abroad.
43 "What hollow sound is that?" approaching near,
44 The roar of many wheels breaks on his ear.
45 It is the flood of human life in motion!
46 It is the voice of a tempestuous ocean!
47 With sad but pleasing awe his soul is filled,
48 Scarce heaves his breast, and all within is stilled,
49 As many thoughts and feelings cross his mind,
50 Thoughts, mingled, melancholy, undefined,
51 Of restless, reckless man, and years gone by,
52 And Time fast wending to Eternity.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): LONDON.
Genres: prospect poem / topographical poem

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Source edition

Baillie, Joanna, 1762-1851. Fugitive Verses. By Joanna Baillie, author of “Dramas on the Passions,“ etc. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street. MDCCCXL., 1840, pp. 140-142.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [40.17].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Joanna Baillie