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Poem by Frederick Locker-Lampson


St. Jamess Street


ST. JAMESS STREET, of classic fame!
  The finest people throng it!	
St. Jamess Street? I know the name!
  I think I ve passed along it!
Why, that s where Sacharissa sighed
  When Waller read his ditty;
Where Byron lived, and Gibbon died,
  And Alvanley was witty.

A famous street. It skirts the Park
  Where Rogers took his pastime;
Come, gaze on fifty men of mark,
  And then call up the fast time!
The plats at Whites, the play at Crocks,
  The bumpers to Miss Gunning;
The bonhomie of Charlie Fox,
  And Selwyns ghastly funning.

The dear old street of clubs and cribs,
  As north and south it stretches,
Still smacks of Williams pungent squibs,
  And Gillrays fiercer sketches;
The quaint old dress, the grand old style,
  The mots, the racy stories;
The wine, the dice,the wit, the bile,
  The hate of Whigs and Tories.

At dusk, when I am strolling there,
  Dim forms will rise around me;
Old Pepys creeps past me in his chair,
  And Congreves airs astound me!
And once Nell Gwynne, a frail young sprite,
  Looked kindly when I met her;	
I shook my head, perhaps,but quite
  Forgot to quite forget her.

The street is still a lively tomb
  For rich and gay and clever;
The crops of dandies bud, and bloom,
  And die as fast as ever.
Now gilded youth loves cutty-pipes,
  And slang that s rather rancid,
It cant approach its prototypes
  In tone,or so I ve fancied.	

In Brummells day of buckle shoes,
  Starch cravats, and roll collars,
They d fight, and woo, and bet,and lose
  Like gentlemen and scholars:
I like young men to go the pace,
  I half forgive old Rapid;
These louts disgrace their name and race,
  So vicious and so vapid!

Worse times may come. Bon ton, alas!
  Will then be quite forgotten,
And all we much revere will pass
  From ripe to worse than rotten;
Rank weeds will sprout between yon stones,
  And owls will roost at Boodles,
And Echo will hurl back the tones
  Of screaming Yankee Doodles.

I like the haunts, and many such,
  Where wit and wealth are squandered,
The gardened mansions, just as much,
  Where grace and rank have wandered,
The spots where ladies fair and leal
  First ventured to adore me!
And something of the like I feel
  For this old street before me.



Frederick Locker-Lampson

Poem Themes: London, Cities of England

Frederick Locker-Lampson's other poems:
  1. A Sketch in Seven Dials
  2. The Old Clerk
  3. Phœbe, the Nymph of the Well
  4. The Cradle
  5. The Pilgrims of Pall Mall


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