James Thomson’s ‘City of Dreadful Night’

James Thomson’s ‘City of Dreadful Night’

Messrs. Watts, the original publishers, have arranged to re-issue James Thomson’s “City of Dreadful Night” at a shilling in their Thinker’s Library. The name of the poem is often on men’s lips, the volume less often on their shelves. There, for the most part, acquaintance with it ends. Of all great poems of the last sixty years it is the least read, though it is as apt for today’s sorrows as for those past. Mr. Henry Salt in his foreword suggests that it may have repelled readers by its anti-religious bins. If that were so, alone, a reaction by now should have set in. More likely its strange and solitary calm, its settled, accepted despairs made a world too chill to be tenable by the average cheerful mortal. But, in any case, time is more than come to restore a significant to its proper place.

The Observer, May 29, 1932, p. 6

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