The city, surely, is a person,
But a person unfamiliar with its denizens,
And prevision and precaution of little use in this Babylon,
Since the city is made such that it is death to look too closely.
To steel oneself, despite, one has to participate,
And then to risk oneself by attempting to stand outside,
And suck of its grandeur
To watch it in its great doings (but small metaphysics)
Is to find no lesson for restitution or humility.
Or London itself as the timepiece, carved pillars of gilded bronze,
A movement exquisite, each interaction honed,
The city as grand — essential — exhilarating — toxic — cyanic to the core.
The city with a jewelled quality the rural cannot own.
Above all, the city in its shiny certainty
That tomorrow would be as today.
The walkers of the embankment have chosen west or east,
The carriages have their roads.
And, thanks be to London, I’ve done its thoroughfares this morning,
The straight lines and their primacy,
Received my text o’ the day, and read it back,
Absorbed it well, I think;
But, replacement or its principles
— if only I could know —
Maybe it is the same as yesterday.
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When No One is Looking by Hannah Shilling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.