Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
 
Richard Le Gallienne. 1866–
 
52. A Ballad of London
 
AH, London! London! our delight, 
Great flower that opens but at night, 
Great City of the midnight sun, 
Whose day begins when day is done. 
  
Lamp after lamp against the sky         5
Opens a sudden beaming eye, 
Leaping alight on either hand, 
The iron lilies of the Strand. 
  
Like dragonflies, the hansoms hover, 
With jeweled eyes, to catch the lover;  10
The streets are full of lights and loves, 
Soft gowns, and flutter of soiled doves. 
  
The human moths about the light 
Dash and cling close in dazed delight, 
And burn and laugh, the world and wife,  15
For this is London, this is life! 
  
Upon thy petals butterflies, 
But at thy root, some say, there lies, 
A world of weeping trodden things, 
Poor worms that have not eyes or wings.  20
  
From out corruption of their woe 
Springs this bright flower that charms us so, 
Men die and rot deep out of sight 
To keep this jungle-flower bright. 
  
Paris and London, World-Flowers twain  25
Wherewith the World-Tree blooms again, 
Since Time hath gathered Babylon, 
And withered Rome still withers on. 
  
Sidon and Tyre were such as ye, 
How bright they shone upon the tree!  30
But Time hath gathered, both are gone, 
And no man sails to Babylon. 
 
 
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