Dora Wilcox

Here you will find the Long Poem In London of poet Dora Wilcox

In London

When I look out on London's teeming streets, 
On grim grey houses, and on leaden skies, 
My courage fails me, and my heart grows sick, 
And I remember that fair heritage 
Barter'd by me for what your London gives. 
This is not Nature's city: I am kin 
To whatsoever is of free and wild, 
And here I pine between these narrow walls, 
And London's smoke hides all the stars from me, 
Light from mine eyes, and Heaven from my heart. 

For in an island of those Southern seas 
That lie behind me, guarded by the Cross 
That looks all night from out our splendid skies, 
I know a valley opening to the East. 
There, hour by hour, the lazy tide creeps in 
Upon the sands I shall not pace again -- 
Save in a dream, -- and, hour by hour, the tide 
Creeps lazily out, and I behold it not, 
Nor the young moon slow sinking to her rest 
Behind the hills; nor yet the dead white trees 
Glimmering in the starlight: they are ghosts 
Of what has been, and shall be never more. 
No, never more! 

   Nor shall I hear again 
The wind that rises at the dead of night 
Suddenly, and sweeps inward from the sea, 
Rustling the tussock, nor the wekas' wail 
Echoing at evening from the tawny hills. 
In that deserted garden that I lov'd 
Day after day, my flowers drop unseen; 
And as your Summer slips away in tears, 
Spring wakes our lovely Lady of the Bush, 
The Kowhai, and she hastes to wrap herself 
All in a mantle wrought of living gold; 
Then come the birds, who are her worshippers, 
To hover round her; tuis swift of wing, 
And bell-birds flashing sudden in the sun, 
Carolling: Ah! what English nightingale, 
Heard in the stillness of a summer eve, 
From out the shadow of historic elms, 
Sings sweeter than our Bell-bird of the Bush? 
And Spring is here: now the Veronica, 
Our Koromiko, whitens on the cliff, 
The honey-sweet Manuka buds, and bursts 
In bloom, and the divine Convolvulus, 
Most fair and frail of all our forest flowers, 
Stars every covert, running riotous. 
O quiet valley, opening to the East, 
How far from this thy peacefulness am I! 
Ah me, how far! and far this stream of Life 
From thy clear creek fast falling to the sea! 

Yet let me not lament that these things are 
In that lov'd country I shall see no more; 
All that has been is mine inviolate, 
Lock'd in the secret book of memory. 
And though I change, my valley knows no change. 
And when I look on London's teeming streets, 
On grim grey houses, and on leaden skies, 
When speech seems but the babble of a crowd, 
And music fails me, and my lamp of life 
Burns low, and Art, my mistress, turns from me, -- 
Then do I pass beyond the Gate of Dreams 
Into my kingdom, walking unconstrained 
By ways familiar under Southern skies; 
Nor unaccompanied; the dear dumb things 
I lov'd once, have their immortality. 
There too is all fulfilment of desire: 
In this the valley of my Paradise 
I find again lost ideals, dreams too fair 
For lasting; there I meet once more mine own 
Whom Death has stolen, or Life estranged from me, -- 
And thither, with the coming of the dark, 
Thou comest, and the night is full of stars.