An Old House in London

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An Old House in London
written by William Henry Davies
From "Farewell to Poesy", 1910 Link to further information

In fancy I can see thee stand
Again in the green meadow-land;
As in thine infancy, long past,
When Southwark was a lovely waste;
And Larks and Blackbirds sang around,
As common as their children found
So far away in these late days.
And thou didst like a lighthouse raise
Thy windows, that their light could show
Across the broad, green calm below;
And there were trees, beneath whose boughs
Stood happy horses, sheep and cows,
And wilful brooks, that would not yield
To hedges, to mark out each field,
But every field that they passed through
Was by them cut and counted two.
From thy back windows thou couldst see,
Half-way between St. Paul's and thee,
Swans with their shadows, and the barge
Of state old Thames took in his charge.
Ah, wert thou now what thou wert then,
There were no need to fly from men.
Instead of those green meadows, now
Three hundred hungry children show
Rags and white faces at thy door
For charity. We see no more
Green lanes, but alleys dark instead;
Where none can walk but fear to tread
On babes that crawl in dirt and slime.
And from thy windows, at this time,
Thou canst not see ten yards beyond,
For the high blocks that stand around;
Buildings that ofttimes only give
One room in which five souls must live,
With but one window for their air.
Foul art thou now with lives of care,
For hungry children and men poor
Seek food and lodging at thy door;
Thou that didst hear, in thy first hours,
Birds sing, and saw the sweet wild flowers.

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