Manchester

Go back a century on the town,
  That o’er yon crowded plain,
With wealth its dower, and art its crown,
  Extends its proud domain.
Upon that plain a village stood,
  Lonely, obscure, and poor ;
The sullen stream rolled its dull flood
  Amid a barren moor.

Now, mark the hall, the church, the street,
  The buildings of to-day ;
Behold the thousands now that meet
  Upon the peopled way.
Go, silent with the sense of power,
  And of the mighty mind
Which thus can animate the hour,
  And leave its work behind.

Go through that city, and behold
  What intellect can yield,
How it brings forth an hundred-fold
  From time’s enduring field.
Those walls are filled with wealth, the spoil
  Of industry and thought,
The mighty harvest which man’s toil
  Out of the past has wrought.

Science and labour here unite
  The thoughtful and the real,
And here man’s strength puts forth its might
  To work out man's ideal.
The useful is the element
  Here laboured by the mind,
Which, on the active present bent,
  Invented and combin’d.

The product of that city, now
  Far distant lands consume;
The Indian wears around his brow
  The white webs of her loom.
Her vessels sweep from East to West ;
  Her merchants are like kings ;
While wonders in her walls attest
  The power that commerce brings.

From wealth hath sprung up nobler fruit,
  Taste link'd with arts divine;
The Gallery and the Institute
  Enlighten and refine.
And many an happy English home
  With love and peace repays
The care that may be yet to come,
  The toil of early days.

Had I to guide a stranger’s eye
  Around our glorious land,
Where yonder wondrous factories lie
  I’d bid that stranger stand.
Let the wide city spread displayed
  Beneath the morning sun,
And in it see for England’s trade
  What yonder town hath done.*

*“In a speech last year, at the British Association, Mr. Brand well advised the members to take the manufacturing districts of England on their way to the north, and to explore the wonders there accumulated. Manchester is the great miracle of modern progress. Science, devoted to utility and industry, have achieved the must wonderful results. Intellectual advancement denoted in a taste for literature and the fine arts,—employment for the highest as well as the lowest;—public buildings, liberal institutions, and all that can mark wealth, and a knowledge of its best purposes ;— all this is the growth of a single century.”
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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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"Manchester" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 17 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/45406/manchester>.

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