Theme: London and the London area

Composed upon Westminster Bridge

September 3, 1802. William Wordsworth

(1770 - 1850)

This poem was written before the Industrial Revolution, when ships were still powered by the wind, before motor vehicles and railways were invented, and also before the Thames embankments and most bridges were built. The river was much wider, shallower, slower and clearer.  So much for progress!

The picture of Westminster Bridge

and the Lord Mayor's Procession is by Canaletto

Earth has not anything to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty:


This City now doth like a garment wear

The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

Open unto the fields and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.


Never did sun more beautifully steep

In his first splendour valley, rock or hill;

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:


Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Come Down to Kew in Lilac Time     Alfred Noyes


Come down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac-time;

Come down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn't far from London!)

And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer's wonderland;

Come down to Kew in lilac-time (is isn't far from London!)

Symphony in Yellow

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)


An omnibus across the bridge

Crawls like a yellow butterfly,

And here and there a passer-by

Shows like a little restless midge.


Big barges full of yellow hay

Are moored against the shadowy wharf,

And like a yellow silken scarf,

The thick fog hangs along the quay.


The yellow leaves begin to fade

And flutter from the temple elms,

And at my feet the pale green Thames

Lies like a rod of rippled jade.


Vocabulary

omnibus = bus

yellow butterfly = the colour of buses in those days

midge = a small flying insect that bites!

moor = to park a boat

wharf = a building where importers stored goods

rippled = like small waves when a breeze blows across the surface of a lake

jade = a valuable stone

The Cries of London

17th Century, anonymous song


Here`s fine rosemary, sage and thyme.

Come buy my ground ivy.

Here`s fetherfew, gilliflowers and rue.

Come buy my knotted majorum, ho!

Come buy my mint, my fine greenmint.

Here`s fine lavender for your cloaths.

Here`s parsley and winter savory,

And hearts-ease, which all do choose.

Here`s balm and hissop, and cinquefoil,

All fine herbs, it is well known.

Let none despise the merry, merry cries

Of famous London-town!


Here`s fine herrings, eight a groat.

Hot codlins, pies and tarts.

New mackerel! have to sell.

Come buy my Wellfleet oysters, ho!

Come buy my whitings fine and new.

Wives, shall I mend your husbands horns?

I`ll grind your knives to please your wives,

And very nicely cut your corns.

Maids, have you any hair to sell,

Either flaxen, black or brown?

Let none despise the merry, merry cries

Of famous London-town

London Bells. Anonymous, early 18th Century.

This is a famous London song.


Two sticks and an apple,

Say the bells at Whitechapel.

Old Father Bald Pate,

Say the bells at Aldgate.

Maids in white aprons,

Say the bells at St. Catherine's.

Oranges and lemons,

Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,

Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?

Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I am rich,

Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?

Say the bells of Stepney.

I'm sure I don't know,

Says the great bell at Bow.


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