1800
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

London's Summer Morning.

The Morning Post (23 August 1800).

Mary Robinson


A blank-verse descriptive ode, signed "M. R.," part of the series imitating Philips's The Splendid Shilling. While Mary Robinson's late contribution differs from by describing a London street scene rather than a particular object or verse character, since the topic is commerce the poem teems with objects in a way consonant with the usual Dutch manner. The juxtaposition of the stroller and the insect is a particularly nice detail: "In shops (where beauty smiles with industry,) | Sits the smart damsel; while the passenger | Peeps thro' the window, watching ev'ry charm. | Now pastry dainties catch the eye minute | Of humming insects, while the limy snare | Waits to enthral them" 3:324. The last figure to make an appearance is the poet, rolling out of bed in time to capture the scene. In 1812 it the poem printed with the signature "M. R." in The Star, a London daily paper.



Who has not wak'd to list the busy sounds
Of SUMMER'S MORNING, in the sultry smoke
Of noisy LONDON? On the pavement hot
The sooty chimney-boy, with dingy face
And tatter'd cov'ring, shrilly bawls his trade,
Rousing the sleepy housemaid. At the door
The milk-pail rattles, and the tinkling bell
Proclaims the dustman's office, while the street
Is lost in clouds impervious. Now begins
The din of hackney coaches, waggons, carts;
While tinmans' shops, and noisy trunk-makers,
Knife-grinders, coopers, squeaking cork-cutters,
Fruit-barrows, and the hunger-giving cries
Of vegetable venders, fill the air.
Now ev'ry shop displays its varied trade,
And the fresh-sprinkled pavement cools the feet
Of early walkers. At the private door
The ruddy housemaid twirls the busy mop,
Annoying the smart 'prentice, or neat girl,
Tripping with band-box, lightly. Now the sun
Darts burning splendour on the glitt'ring pane,
Save where the canvas awning throws a shade
On the gay merchandize. Now, spruce and trim,
In shops (where BEAUTY smiles with INDUSTRY,)
Sits the smart damsel, while the passenger
Peeps through the window, watching ev'ry charm.
Now pastry dainties catch the eye minute
Of humming insects, while the limy snare
Waits to enthral them. Now the lamp-lighter
Mounts the tall ladder, nimbly vent'rous,
To trim the half-fill'd lamp; while at his feet
The pot-boy yells discordant! All along
The sultry pavement, the old-clothesman cries
In tone monotonous, and side-long views
The area for his traffic. Now the bag
Is slily open'd, and the half-worn suit
(Sometimes the pilfer'd treasure of the base
Domestic spoiler), for one half its worth,
Sinks in the green abyss. The porter now
Bears his huge load along the burning way;
And the POOR POET wakes from busy dreams,
To paint the Summer Morning.

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