Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT: 15, by JAMES THOMSON (1834-1882)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT: 15, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Wherever men are gathered, all the air
Last Line: Infections of incurable despair.
Alternate Author Name(s): B. V.; Bysshe Vanolis

Wherever men are gathered, all the air
Is charged with human feeling, human thought;
Each shout and cry and laugh, each curse and prayer,
Are into its vibrations surely wrought;
Unspoken passion, wordless meditation,
Are breathed into it with our respiration
It is with our life fraught and overfraught.

So that no man there breathes earth's simple breath,
As if alone on mountains or wide seas;
But nourishes warm life or hastens death
With joys and sorrows, health and foul disease,
Wisdom and folly, good and evil labours,
Incessant of his multitudinous neighbors;
He in his turn affecting all of these.

That City's atmosphere is dark and dense,
Although not many exiles wander there,
With many a potent evil influence,
Each adding poison to the poisoned air;
Infections of unutterable sadness,
Infections of incalculable madness,
Infections of incurable despair.

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