A City Plum Is Not A Plum

A city plum is not a plum;
A dumb-bell is no bell, though dumb;
A party rat is not a rat;
A sailor's cat is not a cat;
A soldier's frog is not a frog;
A captain's log is not a log.

by Christina Georgina Rossetti.

A Door Just Opened On A Street

A door just opened on a street--
I, lost, was passing by--
An instant's width of warmth disclosed
And wealth, and company.

The door as sudden shut, and I,
I, lost, was passing by,--
Lost doubly, but by contrast most,
Enlightening misery.

by Emily Dickinson.

Beautiful city

Beautiful city, the centre and crater of European confusion,
O you with your passionate shriek for the rights of an equal
humanity,
How often your Re-volution has proven but E-volution
Roll’d again back on itself in the tides of a civic insanity!

by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

The Lady Poverty

I met her on the Umbrian hills,
Her hair unbound, her feet unshod:
As one whom secret glory fills
She walked, alone with God.

I met her in the city street:
Oh, changed was all her aspect then!
With heavy eyes and weary feet
She walked alone, with men.

by Evelyn Underhill.

I Have Got Lost In The City Of Love

I have got lost in the city of love,
I am being cleansed,
withdrawing myself from my head,
hands and feet.
I have got rid of my ego, and have attained my goal.
Thus it has all ended well.
O Bullah, the Lord pervades both the worlds;
None now appears a stranger to me.

by Bulleh Shah.

Wall Street At Night

Long vast shapes… cooled and flushed through with darkness….
Lidless windows
Glazed with a flashy luster
From some little pert cafe chirping up like a sparrow.
And down among iron guts
Piled silver
Throwing gray spatter of light… pale without heat…
Like the pallor of dead bodies.

by Lola Ridge.

The City Mouse And The Garden Mouse

The city mouse lives in a house; -
The garden mouse lives in a bower,
He's friendly with the frogs and toads,
And sees the pretty plants in flower.

The city mouse eats bread and cheese; -
The garden mouse eats what he can;
We will not grudge him seeds and stalks,
Poor little timid furry man.

by Christina Georgina Rossetti.

The City Of Baghdad

The city of Baghdad* is graced With tall,
elegant cypresses,
My fond memories of that fair city.

Tear my heart to shreds,
Like waste cloth in a tailor's shop.

Wearing a cloak made with these shreds,
I will join the beggars in the lanes of Baghdad

And beg for alms, calling out:
'O Meeran, Meeran, my beloved Master! ' **

by Sultan Bahu.

His attractive face a bit pale,
his brown eyes looking tired, dazed,
twenty-five years old but could be taken for twenty,
with something of the artist in the way he dresses
-the colour of his tie, shape of his collar
he drifts aimlessly down the street,
as though still hypnotized by the illicit pleasure,
the very illicit pleasure he's just experienced.

by Constantine P. Cavafy.

Epigram For Wall Street

I'll tell you a plan for gaining wealth,
Better than banking, trade or leases —
Take a bank note and fold it up,
And then you will find your money in creases!
This wonderful plan, without danger or loss,
Keeps your cash in your hands, where nothing can trouble it;
And every time that you fold it across,
'Tis as plain as the light of the day that you double it!

by Edgar Allan Poe.

Straw In The Street

Straw in the street where I pass to-day
Dulls the sound of the wheels and feet.
'Tis for a failing life they lay
Straw in the street.

Here, where the pulses of London beat,
Someone strives with the Presence grey;
Ah, is it victory or defeat?

The hurrying people go their way,
Pause and jostle and pass and greet;
For life, for death, are they treading, say
Straw in the street?

by Amy Levy.

The Street Sounds To The Soldiers' Tread

The street sounds to the soldiers' tread,
And out we troop to see:
A single redcoat turns his head,
He turns and looks at me.

My man, from sky to sky's so far,
We never crossed before;
Such leagues apart the world's ends are,
We're like to meet no more;

What thoughts at heart have you and I
We cannot stop to tell;
But dead or living, drunk or dry,
Soldier, I wish you well.

by Alfred Edward Housman.

SIR, we approve your curling lip and nose
At this vile sight.
These men, these women are 'brute beasts'? — Who knows,
Sir, but that you are right?
Panders and harlots, rogues and thieves and worse,
We are a crew
Whose pitiful plunder's honoured in the purse
Of gentlemen (like you),
Whom holy Competition's taught (like us)
'What's thine is mine!' —
How we must love you who have made us thus,
You may perhaps divine!

by Francis William Lauderdale Adams.

A faint wind, blowing from World's End,
Made strange the city street.
A strange sound mingled in the fall
Of the familiar feet.
Something unseen whirled with the leaves
To tap on door and sill.
Something unknown went whispering by
Even when the wind was still.
And men looked up with startled eyes
And hurried on their way,
As if they had been called, and told
How brief their day.

by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts.

THE white snow falls on hill and dale,
The snow falls white by square and street,
Falls on the town, a bridal veil,
And on the fields a winding-sheet.

A winding-sheet for last year's flowers,
For last year's love, and last year's tear,
A bridal veil for the New Hours,
For the New Love and the New Year.

Soft snow, spread out his winding-sheet!
Spin fine her veil, O bridal snow!
Cover the print of her dancing feet,
And the place where he lies low.

by Edith Nesbit.

Oh ! City girls are pale-like,
And proud-like, and cold-like.
And nineteen out of twenty
Have never been our way.
I tells them of the tall hills.
The green hills, the old hills,
Where hawthorns are a-blossoming,
And thrushes call all day.

Oh ! London is a fine place,
A big place, a rich place.
Where nineteen out of twenty
Of all the girls are fair.
But well I knows a white road,
A long road, a straight road.
That leads me into Bosbury ;
I'm wishing I was there !

by Radclyffe Hall.

In The Harbour: The City And The Sea

The panting City cried to the Sea,
'I am faint with heat,--O breathe on me!'

And the Sea said, 'Lo, I breathe! but my breath
To some will be life, to others death!'

As to Prometheus, bringing ease
In pain, come the Oceanides,

So to the City, hot with the flame
Of the pitiless sun, the east wind came.

It came from the heaving breast of the deep,
Silent as dreams are, and sudden as sleep.

Life-giving, death-giving, which will it be;
O breath of the merciful, merciless Sea?

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

O City, Look The Eastward Way

O CITY, look the Eastward way!
Beyond thy roofs of shadowy red and grey
Floats like a lily on the airy stream,
Radiant and vast, a cloud,
Around whose billowy head
Splendour from out the glooming West is shed
As if it were not ever to take flight,—
And on its edge of gleam
In the clear blue of waning afternoon,
Faint as a spirit slipping from the shroud,
Faint, and yet gathering light,
The Moon.

O city, dream and pray!
This is thy evensong at close of day.

by Enid Derham.

A London Plane-Tree

Green is the plane-tree in the square,
The other trees are brown;
They droop and pine for country air;
The plane-tree loves the town.

Here from my garret-pane, I mark
The plane-tree bud and blow,
Shed her recuperative bark,
And spread her shade below.

Among her branches, in and out,
The city breezes play;
The dun fog wraps her round about;
Above, the smoke curls grey.

Others the country take for choice,
And hold the town in scorn;
But she has listened to the voice
On city breezes borne.

by Amy Levy.

Come, Here Is Adieu To The City

COME, here is adieu to the city
And hurrah for the country again.
The broad road lies before me
Watered with last night's rain.
The timbered country woos me
With many a high and bough;
And again in the shining fallows
The ploughman follows the plough.

The whole year's sweat and study,
And the whole year's sowing time,
Comes now to the perfect harvest,
And ripens now into rhyme.
For we that sow in the Autumn,
We reap our grain in the Spring,
And we that go sowing and weeping
Return to reap and sing.

by Robert Louis Stevenson.

What ails my senses thus to cheat?
What is it ails the place,
That all the people in the street
Should wear one woman's face?

The London trees are dusty-brown
Beneath the summer sky;
My love, she dwells in London town,
Nor leaves it in July.

O various and intricate maze,
Wide waste of square and street;
Where, missing through unnumbered days,
We twain at last may meet!

And who cries out on crowd and mart?
Who prates of stream and sea?
The summer in the city's heart--
That is enough for me.

by Amy Levy.

Whatever Brawls Disturb The Street

Once there was a little boy,
With curly hair and pleasant eye—
A boy who always told the truth,
And never, never told a lie.
And when he trotted off to school,
The children all about would cry,
'There goes the curly-headed boy—
The boy that never tells a lie.'
And everybody loved him so,
Because he always told the truth,
That every day, as he grew up,
'Twas said, 'There goes the honest youth.'
And when the people that stood near
Would turn to ask the reason why,
The answer would be always this:
'Because he never tells a lie.'

by Isaac Watts.

A Blind Man In The Street

'He's blind,' we say. Then turn aside
Upon our way, again to view
Familiar things - some prospect wide,
Some olden scene for ever new.
Heedless we pass along, and soon
The groping figure's out of mind,
Lost in the sunlit afternoon.
'Poor chap, he's blind.'


Slowly he taps along the street,
Pitch black beneath our smiling skies:
While ours the boon again to greet
New scenes with ever thoughtless eyes.
Thoughtless indeed if, passing, we
Grudge thanks for this most precious sense.
He asks of us - not sympathy
But recompence.

by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis.

Night In The City

The sluggish clouds hang low upon the town,
And from yon lamp in chilled and sodden rays
The feeble light gropes through the heavy mist
And dies, extinguished in the stagnant maze.

From moisty eaves the drops fall slowly down
To strike with leaden sound the walk below,
And in dark, murky pools upon the street
The water stands, as lacking life to flow.

With hopeless brain, oppressed and sad at heart,
Toil's careworn slave turns out his flickering light
And treads in dreams his dulling round again,
Where weary day succeeds to dismal night.

by Ellis Parker Butler.

To Miss D. T. On Her Giving Me A Drawing Of Little Street Arabs

As, cleansed of Tiber's and Oblivion's slime,
Glow Farnesina's vaults with shapes again
That dreamed some exiled artist from his pain
Back to his Athens and the Muse's clime,
So these world-orphaned waifs of Want and Crime,
Purged by Art's absolution from the stain
Of the polluting city-flood, regain
Ideal grace secure from taint of time.
An Attic frieze you give, a pictured song;
For as with words the poet paints, for you
The happy pencil at its labour sings,
Stealing his privilege, nor does him wrong,
Beneath the false discovering the true,
And Beauty's best in unregarded things.

by James Russell Lowell.

Once I Pass'D Through A Populous City


ONCE I pass'd through a populous city, imprinting my brain, for
future use, with its shows, architecture, customs, and
traditions;
Yet now, of all that city, I remember only a woman I casually met
there, who detain'd me for love of me;
Day by day and night by night we were together,--All else has long
been forgotten by me;
I remember, I say, only that woman who passionately clung to me;
Again we wander--we love--we separate again;
Again she holds me by the hand--I must not go!
I see her close beside me, with silent lips, sad and tremulous.

by Walt Whitman.

In A London Square

Put forth thy leaf, thou lofty plane,
East wind and frost are safely gone;
With zephyr mild and balmy rain
The summer comes serenly on;
Earth, air, and sun and skies combine
To promise all that's kind and fair: -
But thou, O human heart of mine,
Be still, contain thyself, and bear.

December days were brief and chill,
The winds of March were wild and drear,
And, nearing and receding still,
Spring never would, we thought, be here.
The leaves that burst, the suns that shine,
Had, not the less, their certain date: -
And thou, O human heart of mine,
Be still, refrain thyself, and wait.

by Arthur Hugh Clough.

Beyond the dusky corn-fields, toward the west,
Dotted with farms, beyond the shallow stream,
Through drifts of elm with quiet peep and gleam,
Curved white and slender as a lady's wrist,
Faint and far off out of the autumn mist,
Even as a pointed jewel softly set
In clouds of colour warmer, deeper yet,
Crimson and gold and rose and amethyst,
Toward dayset, where the journeying sun grown old
Hangs lowly westward darker now than gold,
With the soft sun-touch of the yellowing hours
Made lovelier, I see with dreaming eyes,
Even as a dream out of a dream, arise
The bell-tongued city with its glorious towers.

by Archibald Lampman.

Strange that the city thoroughfare,
Noisy and bustling all the day,
Should with the night renounce its care,
And lend itself to children's play!

Oh, girls are girls, and boys are boys,
And have been so since Abel's birth,
And shall be so till dolls and toys
Are with the children swept from earth.

The self-same sport that crowns the day
Of many a Syrian shepherd's son,
Beguiles the little lads at play
By night in stately Babylon.

I hear their voices in the street,
Yet 't is so different now from then!
Come, brother! from your winding-sheet,
And let us two be boys again!

by Eugene Field.

Too Much Knowledge

On, if we had but eyes to see
The glory which around us lies,
To read the secrets of the earth,
And know the splendours of the skies ;

And if we had but ears to hear
The psalm of life which upward rolls
From desert tent and city street,
From every meeting-place of souls ;

And if we had but tongues to tell
The dumb thoughts that shall ne'er be heard,
The inarticulate prayers which rise
From hearts by passionate yearnings stirred,—

Our souls would parch, like Semele's,
When her dread Lord blazed forth confessed.
Ah, sometimes too much knowledge blights,
And ignorance indeed is blest!

by Sir Lewis Morris.

They pass me by like shadows, crowds on crowds,
Dim ghosts of men that hover to and fro,
Hugging their bodies round them, like thin shrouds
Wherein their souls were buried long ago:
They trampled on their youth, and faith, and love,
They cast their hope of human-kind away,
With Heaven's clear messages they madly strove,
And conquered,—and their spirits turned to clay.
Lo! how they wander round the world, their grave,
Whose ever-gaping maw by such is fed,
Gibbering at living men, and idly rave,
'We, only, truly live, but ye are dead.'
Alas! poor fools, the anointed eye may trace
A dead soul's epitaph in every face!

by James Russell Lowell.

When The Assault Was Intended To The City

Captain, or colonel, or knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,
If deed of honour did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms.
He can requite thee, for he knows the charms
That call fame on such gentle acts as these,
And he can spread thy name o’er lands and seas,
Whatever clime the sun’s bright circle warms.
Lift not thy spear against the Muse’s bower;
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground; and the repeated air
Of sad Electra’s Poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.

by John Milton.

Poor, hapless souls! at whom we stand aghast,
As at invading armies sweeping by —
As strange to haggard face and desperate cry —
Did we not know the worm must turn at last?
Poor, hungry men, with hungry children cast
Upon the wintry streets to thieve or die —
Suffering your wants and woes so silently -
Patient so long — is all your patience past?

Are there no ears to hear this warning call?
Are there no eyes to see this portent dread?
Must brute force rise and social order fall,
Ere these starved millions can be clothed and fed?
Justice be judge. Let future history say
Which are the greatest criminals to- day.

by Ada Cambridge.

Written In A Volume Of The Comtesse De Noailles

Be my companion under cool arcades
That frame some drowsy street and dazzling square
Beyond whose flowers and palm-tree promenades
White belfries burn in the blue tropic air.
Lie near me in dim forests where the croon
Of wood-doves sounds and moss-banked water flows,
Or musing late till the midsummer moon
Breaks through some ruined abbey's empty rose.
Sweetest of those to-day whose pious hands
Tend the sequestered altar of Romance,
Where fewer offerings burn, and fewer kneel,
Pour there your passionate beauty on my heart,
And, gladdening such solitudes, impart
How sweet the fellowship of those who feel!

by Alan Seeger.

A morn, a sallow lamp-lit morn,
A dawn that never breaks to day!
Old, old the faces, and forlorn;
The hearts look out, so seared, so grey!
It is as if some upturned stone
Had flung to light a vermin rout—
For things misfeatured, souls unknown,
Stagger in blind amaze about.

Along their gleaming lines of light
The charging trams go, head to ground;
Out from the drifting pathways, white
The faces flash—like faces drowned!
And there with painted features drear,
And eyes whose pathos still is sweet,
The hunted hunters prowl and peer—
Their lair the long, slow-surging street.

by Arthur Henry Adams.

Not For That City

Not for that city of the level sun,
Its golden streets and glittering gates ablaze—
The shadeless, sleepless city of white days,
White nights, or nights and days that are as one—
We weary, when all is said , all thought, all done.
We strain our eyes beyond this dusk to see
What, from the threshold of eternity
We shall step into. No, I think we shun
The splendour of that everlasting glare,
The clamour of that never-ending song.
And if for anything we greatly long,
It is for some remote and quiet stair
Which winds to silence and a space for sleep
Too sound for waking and for dreams too deep.

by Charlotte Mary Mew.

Down the strait vistas where a city street
Fades in pale dust and vaporous distances,
Stained with far fumes the light grows less and less
And the sky reddens round the day's retreat.
Now out of orient chambers, cool and sweet,
Like Nature's pure lustration, Dusk comes down.
Now the lamps brighten and the quickening town
Rings with the trample of returning feet.
And Pleasure, risen from her own warm mould
Sunk all the drowsy and unloved daylight
In layers of odorous softness, Paphian girls
Cover with gauze, with satin, and with pearls,
Crown, and about her spangly vestments fold
The ermine of the empire of the Night.

by Alan Seeger.

The Painter On Silk

There was a man
Who made his living
By painting roses
Upon silk.

He sat in an upper chamber
And painted,
And the noises of the street
Meant nothing to him.

When he heard bugles, and fifes, and drums,
He thought of red, and yellow, and white roses
Bursting in the sunshine,
And smiled as he worked.

He thought only of roses,
And silk.
When he could get no more silk
He stopped painting
And only thought
Of roses.

The day the conquerors
Entered the city,
The old man
Lay dying.
He heard the bugles and drums,
And wished he could paint the roses
Bursting into sound.

by Amy Lowell.

I stand at noon upon the heated flags
At the bleached crossing of two streets, and dream
With brain scarce conscious now the hurrying stream
Of noonday passengers is done. Two hags
Stand at an open doorway piled with bags
And jabber hideously. Just at their feet
A small, half-naked child screams in the street,
A blind man yonder, a mere hunch of rags,
Keeps the scant shadow of the eaves, and scowls,
Counting his coppers. Through the open glare
Thunders an empty wagon, from whose trail
A lean dog shoots into the startled square,
Wildly revolves and soothes his hapless tail,
Piercing the noon with intermittent howls.

by Archibald Lampman.

Lord Shaftesbury
YOU have done well, we say it. You are dead,
And, of the man that with the right hand takes
Less than the left hand gives, let it be said
He has done something for our wretched sakes.
For those to whom you gave their daily bread
Rancid with God-loathed 'charity,' their drink
Putrid with man-loathed 'sin,' we bow our head
Grateful, as the great hearse goes by, and think.
Yes, you have fed the flesh and starved the soul
Of thousands of us; you have taught too well
The Rich are little gods beyond control,
Save of your big God of the heaven and hell.
We thank you. This was pretty once, and right.
Now it wears rather thin. My lord, good night!

by Francis William Lauderdale Adams.