GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON (1788–1824)
Don Juan (1822). Canto X. Verses 82–83

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
     Dirty and dusky, 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!

But Juan saw not this: each wreath of smoke
     Appear’d to him but as the magic vapour
Of some alchymic furnace, from whence broke
     The wealth of worlds (a wealth of tax and paper):
The gloomy clouds, which o’er it as a yoke
     Are bow’d, and put the sun out like a taper,
Were nothing but the natural atmosphere,
Extremely wholesome, though but rarely clear.

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