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The Poetical Works of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart. M.P.

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I. O'er royal London, in luxuriant May,While lamps yet twinkled, dawning crept the day.Home from the hell the pale-eyed gamester steals;Home from the ball flash jaded Beauty's wheels;The lean grimalkin, who, since night began,Hath hymn'd to love amidst the wrath of man,Scared from his raptures by the morning star,Flits finely by, and threads the area bar;From fields suburban rolls the early cart;As rests the revel, so awakes the mart.Transfusing Mocha from the beans within,Bright by the crossing gleams the alchemic tin,—There halts the craftsman; there, with envious sigh,The houseless vagrant looks, and limps foot-weary by. Behold that street,—the Omphalos of Town!Where the grim palace wears the prison's frown,As mindful still, amidst a gaudier race,Of the veil'd Genius of the mournful Place—Of floors no majesty but Griefs had trod,And weary limbs that only knelt to God. What tales, what morals, of the elder day—If stones had language—could that street convey!Why yell the human bloodhounds panting there?—To drown the Stuart's last forgiving prayer.Again the bloodhounds!—whither would they run?To lick the feet of Stuart's ribald son.There, through the dusk-red towers, amidst his ringOf Vans and Mynheers, rode the Dutchman king;And there—did England's Goneril thrill to hearThe shouts that triumph'd o'er her crownless Lear?There, where the gaslight streams on Crockford's door,Bluff Henry chuckled at the jests of More;There, where you gaze upon the last H. B.,Swift paused, and mutter'd, "Shall I have that see?"There, where yon pile, for party's common weal,Knits votes that serve, with hearts abhorring, Peel,Blunt Walpole seized, and roughly bought, his man;—Or, tired of Polly, St. John lounged to Anne.Well, let the world change on,—still must endureWhile Earth is Earth, one changeless race—the Poor!Within that street, on yonder threshold stone,What sits as stone-like?—Penury, claim thine own!She sate, the homeless wanderer,—with calm eyesLooking through tears, yet lifted to the skies;Wistful, but patient, sorrowful, but mild,As asking God when He would claim his child.A face too youthful for so hush'd a grief;—The worm that gnaw'd the core had spared the leaf;Though worn the cheek, with hunger, or with care,Yet still the soft fresh childlike bloom was there;And each might touch you with an equal gloom,The youth, the care, the hunger, and the bloom;—As if, when round the cradle of the childWith lavish gifts the gentler fairies smiled,One vengeful sprite, forgotten as the guest,Had breathed a spell to disenchant the rest,And prove how slight each favour, else divine,If wroth the Urganda of the Golden Mine! Now, as the houseless sate, and up the skyDawn to day strengthen'd, pass'd a stranger by:He saw and halted;—she beheld him not—All round them slept, and silence wrapt the spot.To this new-comer Nature had deniedThe gifts that graced the outcast crouch'd beside:With orient suns his cheek was swarth and grim,And low the form, though lightly shaped the limb;Yet life glow'd vigorous in that deep-set eye,With a calm force that dared you to defy;And the strong foot was planted on the stoneFirm as a gnome's upon his mountain throne;Simple his garb, yet what the wealthy wear,And conscious power gave lordship to his air....