Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

CQQ-No.023: Sonnets for Cities

Roman poet Ovid, statue at Constantsa, Romania, where he was exiled. ©James A. Clapp

Roman poet Ovid, statue at Constantsa, Romania, where he was exiled. ©James A. Clapp

Probably before Homer sung of the rivalries of Mycenae and Troy the poet was the historian of cities. Without the poet many cities long blown to dust or now just scattered bits of stone would lie nameless and unremembered in mounds and fields. If their portraits of the urban past and present often give license to their “objectivity.” The great part of “urban” verse has probably been inspired by cities with “inspiration”; but many cities without renown have awakened the muse as well. William Carlos Williams wrote in Sour Grapes:

I have watched
the city from a distance at night
and wondered why I wrote no poem
Come! yes,
the city is ablaze for you
and you stand an look at it.

Below is a selection of works from poets who have stood in, or “looked at” some cities that moved them to verse, the lines been chosen which give some clue to the subject city. The inclusion of the authors may provide additional clues. Select the appropriate city for the space.

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©2004, ©2015, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 1.1.2004)

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