James Thomson, who wrote under the pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis, was a Scottish Victorian-era poet famous primarily for the long poem The City of Dreadful Night (1874), an expression of bleak pessimism in a dehumanized, uncaring urban environment.
Thomson was born in Port Glasgow, Scotland, and, after his father suffered a stroke, he was sent to London where he was raised in an orphanage, the Royal Caledonian Asylum on Chalk (later Caledonian after the asylum) Road near Holloway. He spoke with a London accent. He received his education at the Caledonian Asylum and the Royal Military Academy and served in Ireland, where in 1851, at the age of 17, he made the ... more »
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James Thomson Poems
The City of Dreadful Night
Per me si va nella citta dolente. --Dante
He came to the desert of London town Gray miles long; He wandered up and he wandered down, Singing a quiet song.
The Fire That Filled My Heart of Old
The fire that filled my heart of old Gave luster while it burned; Now only ashes gray and cold Are in its silence urned.
Once in a Saintly Passion
Once in a saintly passion I cried with desperate grief, "O Lord, my heart is black with guile, Of sinners I am chief."
1 What precious thing are you making fast In all these silken lines?
Approach to St. Paul's
Eastwards through busy streets I lingered on; Jostled by anxious crowds, who, heart and brain, Were so absorbed in dreams of Mammon-gain, That they could spare no time to look upon
Suggested by Matthew Arnold's Stanzas
That one long dirge-moan sad and deep, Low, muffled by the solemn stress Of such emotion as doth steep The soul in brooding quietness,
I "Why are your songs all wild and bitter sad As funeral dirges with the orphans' cries?
Give a man a horse he can ride, Give a man a boat he can sail; And his rank and wealth, his strength and health, On sea nor shore shall fail.
A Song of Sighing
Would some little joy to-day Visit us, heart! Could it but a moment stay, Then depart,
For I Must Sing of All I Feel and Know
For I must sing of all I feel and know, Waiting with Memnon passive near the palms, Until the heavenly light doth dawn and grow And thrill my silence into mystic psalms;
I His eyes found nothing beautiful and bright, Nor wealth nor honour, glory nor delight,
Their eyes met; flashed an instant like swift swords That leapt unparring to each other's heart, Jarring convulsion through the inmost chords; Then fell, for they had fully done their part.
The wine of Love is music, And the feast of Love is song: And when Love sits down to the banquet, Love sits long:
Comments about James Thomson
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
The City of Dreadful Night
Per me si va nella citta dolente.
Poi di tanto adoprar, di tanti moti
D'ogni celeste, ogni terrena cosa,
Girando senza posa,
Per tornar sempre la donde son mosse;
Uso alcuno, alcun frutto
Indovinar non so.
Sola nel mondo eterna, a cui si volve
Ogni creata cosa,
In te, morte, si posa
Nostra ignuda natura;
Lieta no, ma sicura
Dell' antico dolor . . .
Pero ch' esser beato
Nega ai mortali e nega a' morti il fato.
Lo, thus, as prostrate, "In the dust I write
My heart's deep languor and my ...