The 17 Most Magnificent Lines Of Poetry Ever Written About London

Lucy Bloxham Lucy Bloxham

The 17 Most Magnificent Lines Of Poetry Ever Written About London

Well, these put our limericks about black snot and drinks prices to shame, that’s for sure.


1. From In Honour of the City of London, William Dunbar

London, thou art the flower of cities all! / Gemme of all joy, jasper of jocunditie.


2. From In This Light and on This Evening, the Editors

I swear to god I heard the earth inhale / Moments before it spat its rain down on me / I swear to god in this light and on this evening / London’s become the most beautiful thing I’ve seen.


3. From a letter to Maria Gisborne (1820), Percy Bysshe Shelly

You are now / In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow / At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore / Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more / Yet in its depth what treasures!

4. From London, William Blake

I wandered through each chartered street,

Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.


5. George VI, 1940

It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed.


6. London’s Brilliant Parade, Elvis Costello

I’m having the time of my life / Or something quite like it / When I’m walking out and about / In London’s brilliant parade.

7. From An Ideal Husband, Oscar Wilde

Oh, I love London Society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be.


8. From Contemplating Hell, Bertolt Brecht

Contemplating Hell, as I once heard it,/ My brother Shelley found it to be a place/ Much like the city of London.


9. From Ill Manors, Plan B

We’ve had it with you politicians
You bloody rich kids never listen
There’s no such thing as broken Britain
We’re just bloody broke in Britain
What needs fixing is the system
Not shop windows down in Brixton
Riots on the television
You can’t put us all in prison!


10. From Don Juan, Lord Byron

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping, / Dirty and dusty, but as wide as eye / Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping / In sight, then lost amidst the forestry / Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping / On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy; / A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown / On a fool’s head – and there is London Town


11. From A Ballad of London, Richard Le Gallienne

The human moths about the light
Dash and cling close in dazed delight,
And burn and laugh, the world and wife,
For this is London, this is life!


12. From The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. Vol 3, Samuel Johnson

You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.


13. From A London Plane Tree, Amy Levy

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


14. From Streets of London, Ralph McTell

So how can you tell me you’re lonely,
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind


15. From Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, William Wordsworth

Earth hath 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.


16. From Like A Beacon, Grace Nichols

In London / every now and then / I get this craving for my mother’s food / I leave art galleries / in search of plantains / saltfish/sweet potatoes / I need this link / I need this touch / of home / swinging my bag / like a beacon / against the cold.


17. From A Woman of no Importance, Oscar Wilde

The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.


Featured Image Credit: Shivam K – Instagram @Shivamkumar_ph

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