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The Illuminated City

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

THE hills all glow'd with a festive light,
For the royal city rejoic'd by night:
There were lamps hung forth upon tower and tree,
Banners were lifted and streaming free;
Every tall pillar was wreath'd with fire,
Like a shooting meteor was every spire;
And the outline of many a dome on high
Was traced, as in stars, on the clear dark sky.

I pass'd thro' the streets; there were throngs on throngs–
Like sounds of the deep were their mingled songs;
There was music forth from each palace borne–
A peal of the cymbal, the harp, and horn;
The forests heard it, the mountains rang,
The hamlets woke to its haughty clang;
Rich and victorious was every tone,
Telling the land of her foes o'erthrown.

Didst thou meet not a mourner for all the slain?
Thousands lie dead on their battle plain!
Gallant and true were the hearts that fell–
Grief in the homes they have left must dwell;
Grief o'er the aspect of childhood spread,
And bowing the beauty of woman's head:
Didst thou hear, midst the songs, not one tender moan,
For the many brave to their slumbers gone?

I saw not the face of a weeper there–
Too strong, perchance, was the bright lamp's glare!–
I heard not a wail midst the joyous crowd–
The music of victory was all too loud!
Mighty it roll'd on the winds afar,
Shaking the streets like a conqueror's car;
Thro' torches and streamers its flood swept by–
How could I listen for moan or sigh?

Turn then away from life's pageants, turn,
If its deep story thy heart would learn!
Ever too bright is that outward show,
Dazzling the eyes till they see not wo.
But lift the proud mantle which hides from thy view
The things thou shouldst gaze on, the sad and true;
Nor fear to survey what its folds conceal–
So must thy spirit be taught to feel!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:40 min read
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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

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    "The Illuminated City" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/13581/the-illuminated-city>.

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