London: A History in Verse edited by Mark Ford

Reviewed by
December 2012–January 2013, no. 347
Mark Ford (ed.): London

London: A History in Verse

edited by Mark Ford

Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 pb, 745 pp, 9780674065680

London: A History in Verse edited by Mark Ford

Reviewed by
December 2012–January 2013, no. 347

For the poet W.S. Graham, running away from Scotland ‘with my money belt of Northern ice’ at the age of nineteen, London was the ‘golden city’ in his poem ‘The Night City’. Graham ‘found Eliot and he said yes // And sprang into a Holmes cab. / Boswell passed me in the fog / Going to visit Whistler who / Was with John Donne …’ For other poets in this anthology, London is a ‘noisome sewer’, as Cowper tells us in an extract from his long poem ‘The Task’. John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, after a night of wine and ‘grave discourse / Of who fucks who, and who does worse’, goes out into the cool of St James’s Park to find among the trees ‘nightly now beneath their shade / Are buggeries, rapes, and incests made’, and that there is a great congress of sexual activity of all walks of London life.

Mark Ford (ed.): London

London: A History in Verse

edited by Mark Ford

Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $49.95 pb, 745 pp, 9780674065680

From the New Issue

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.