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By George Eliot

The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke.

For view there are the houses opposite

Cutting the sky with one long line of wall

Like solid fog: far as the eye can stretch

Monotony of surface & of form

Without a break to hang a guess upon.

No bird can make a shadow as it flies,

For all is shadow, as in ways o’erhung

By thickest canvass, where the golden rays

Are clothed in hemp. No figure lingering

Pauses to feed the hunger of the eye

Or rest a little on the lap of life.

All hurry on & look upon the ground,

Or glance unmarking at the passers by

The wheels are hurrying too, cabs, carriages

All closed, in multiplied identity.

The world seems one huge prison-house & court

Where men are punished at the slightest cost,

With lowest rate of colour, warmth & joy.


Poet Bio

George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans in rural Warwickshire and was unusually well-educated for a woman of her time. A controversial figure during her life, Eliot published translations as well as prose and poetry, all but one under her adopted pseudonym. Among her themes are music; art as an activity of unfathomable human worth; the notion that the past shapes the present; and the conflict in a woman’s life between great duty and the prospect of a happy marriage. Her prose masterpiece was the psychologically insightful Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1871).

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