"Dream Of London, Small, And White, And Clean"
Context: English painter, poet, and prose writer, Morris was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century, an attempt to revive greater freedom of expression for artist and writer alike. This demand for individuality he carried to the production of household furniture, tapestry, and carpet through the foundation of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company. Later he headed a similar movement in founding the Kelmscott Press to meet the need for quality printing and illustration. As a poet, Morris was primarily interested in the Nordic and Grecian legends, and, in The Earthly Paradise, he recounts the tales of a group of Norwegian pilgrims who set sail to find the legendary "earthly paradise" of which they have heard so much. After many years they arrive at a "Western land" where, highly honored by the natives, they pass their remaining years. In establishing his scene at the outset, the author recalls a land unbesmirched by the industrial trade of Victorian England, a land reminiscent of what he imagines Chaucer's England to have been:
Forget six counties overhung with smoke,Forget the snorting steam and piston stroke,Forget the spreading of the hideous town;Think rather of the pack-horse on the down,And dream of London, small, and white, and clean,The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green;Think, that below bridge the green lapping wavesSmite some few keels that bear Levantine staves,Cut from the yew-wood on the burnt-up hill,And pointed jars that Greek hands toiled to fill,And treasured scanty spice from some far sea. . . .A nameless city in a distant sea,White as the changing walls of faerie,Thronged with much people clad in ancient guiseI now am fain to set before your eyes; . . .