‘[London, my beautiful]’ by F.S. Flint is a three-stanza poem dedicated to a city the speaker loves. The poem is made up of unevenly numbered sets of lines—with the first stanza containing twelve lines, the second: six, and the third: six. As this is an Imagist poem, written in reaction to what was considered stodgy Romantic customs, there is no structured rhyme scheme in this piece.
It is also important to note how this poem is divided up. The first stanza contains all the reasons why London is beautiful, but not why it is special to this particular speaker. The second section, which contains the last two stanzas, is devoted to the speaker’s own experience of the city. He spends this time describing the moments he feels are the most meaningful.
A reader should pay special attention to the images which are crafted by the poet in the poem’s short lines. Although they are simple, they paint a clear and vibrant picture of his subject matter. It was the poet’s goal, and that of other Imagist poets, to do away with overly elaborate metaphors and descriptions and instead focus on simple, to the point characterizations which were more impactful. This is particularly clear in the last lines of the second stanza when the speaker states that he thinks of the “glow her passing / sheds on the men.
The poem begins with the speaker listing out a number of things that are special about London, but are not the reasons he cares so much about “her.” He speaks of the sunsets and the “pale green sky.” Although these things are beautiful, they are not special.
In the second half, the narrator comes to the moment he loves. He speaks of the moon rising over the city and lighting up the tops of the trees. When this happens he is determined to climb to the top of the trees and bask in the moonlight. His “blood” will be cooled by this action and his whole spirit lifted.
You can read the full poem [London, my beautiful] here.
Analysis of [London, my beautiful]
London, my beautiful,
it is not the sunset
nor the pale green sky
shimmering through the curtain
upon the lawn,
nor the darkness
stealing over all things
that moves me.
In the first stanza of ‘[London, my beautiful]’, the speaker begins by addressing the city he loves, London. This place will be both the setting and the main subject of the poem. He feels a type of dedication to the city which will be elaborated on in the following stanzas.
He first describes the city as being his “beautiful.” It is a place he feels a great, and somewhat complicated, love for. The next lines state the things about the city which do not herald his love. It is not “the sunset” which he cares for, nor is it the “pale green sky.” He does admit that these things are beautiful though. The sunset is remarkable when it “shimmers through the curtain / of the silver birch.” These things are not what makes London special to him though.
In the next lines, he continues on this same path, listing out other parts of the city that are beautiful but not important. He mentions the “hopping…birds” which dance on the “lawn” and the “darkness” which covers all of the city at night. All of these elements are mentioned in an effort to show how spectacular the city is and build the reader up for something even greater to come.
But as the moon creeps slowly
over the tree-tops
and the glow her passing
sheds on the men.
The next two stanzas are much shorter than the one which preceded them. They make up twelve lines total and provide the second half of the story. It is through their descriptions that a reader will have to come to an understanding of what it is about the city that is so alluring.
This section begins with the speaker stating that a special moment occurs every night in London. It is at the time when the “moon creeps slowly” into the sky and surfaces “over the tree-tops.” This is the rising action of the narrative. The climax, which contains the moment the speaker relishes most in the city, soon follows.
The movement of the moon over the city is deeply moving to the speaker. He cannot help but “think of her” and how her “glow” impacts those who pass her. This description can apply to both the moon surfacing over the city, and the city itself. The speaker believes that “men” who pass through London are bettered by the greatness of the city. They are improved in some integral way.
London, my beautiful,
I will climb
that my blood may be cooled
by the wind.
In the last six lines of the poem, the speaker concludes his descriptions of the city and reaches the climax of his story. In an effort to better reach the moon, and the light it shines upon the city, the speaker “will climb / into the branches” of the trees. He will ascend till he reaches the “moonlit tree-tops.”
The speaker describes this action as something he is sure of. He knows that if he makes the effort to complete this action his “blood may be cooled / by the wind.” He will experience the pentacle of the city’s beauty and be able to find peace in the top of the trees. From there he can look out over the land he loves and admires it in the light of the moon.