A Ballad Of London

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"London! London! Our Delight, Great Flower That Opens But At Night"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In "The Ballad of London" Le Gallienne extols the beauty of London which, especially at night, is virtually sublime because of the many beautiful lights. He speaks of the lamps that gleam and the people who, like dragonflies, surround them. "The human moths about the light/ Dash and cling close in dazed delight." But then he turns his attention toward the poor and humble people who are responsible for all the lights. They make the light, but they have little time to enjoy it. He compares London to Sidon, Tyre, and Babylon, all of which in their eras were known as great cities, as Paris and London now are. Then he sounds a gloomy note on the familiar theme of the passing of greatness. He talks of cities noted for their beauty that have been gathered by Time and are gone.

Ah London! London! our delight,
Great flower that opens but at night,
Great City of the midnight sun,
Whose day begins when day is done.