This is a novel book. The City of Dreadful Night is a long poem by the Scottish poet James 'B.V'. Thomson, written between 1870 and 1873, and published in the National Reformer in 1874, then in 1880 in a book entitled The City of Dreadful Night and Other Poems. Thomson, who sometimes used the pseudonym 'Bysshe Vanolis' — in honour of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Novalis — was a thorough pessimist, suffering from lifelong melancholia and clinical depression, as well as a wanderlust that took him to Colorado and to Spain, among other places. The City of Dreadful Night that gave its title to this poem, however, was made in the image of London. It is a London transformed by the eye of a despairing atheist; the poet had lost his faith and found nothing but emptiness to replace it. The poem, despite its insistently bleak tone, won the praise of George Meredith, and also of George Saintsbury, who in A History of Nineteenth Century Literature wrote that 'what saves Thomson is the perfection with which he expresses the negative and hopeless side of the sense of mystery. '.. The title was re-used as the title of short stories by Rudyard Kipling and O. Henry. The poem was the inspiration for the title of John Rechy's novel City of Night, and the first stanza of the poem was quoted in the book.
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Perhaps the greatest of all of the Oblivionist poets
There are, perhaps, only a handful of truly Oblivionist poets: Thomas Lovell Beddoes, James Thomson, BV, David Park Barnitz, Le Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Lucien Ducasse), Philothée O'Neddy and Owen Stirck. Even among these poets, none of which directly knew each other in life, James Thomson, BV distinguishes himself with the relentless majesty of his crushing verse, laying on layer upon layer in a reverse-lapidary fashion; limning out his bleak and merciless theme until full abdication of the reader to blind and cruel Fate without reservation results; to relinquish oneself to the hopelessness of the human condition, existing, as it does, in the center of an abyss; an uncaring and often hostile universe with neither God nor Master.
For a poet to paint his words with the darkest possible colors, he must well know the bright hues and tones of innocence and youth; these are as the colors of Eden before the fall. The fall is made that much more precipitous, because of its birthplace in heavenly heights. That is what the poetry of James Thomson, BV is about: the fatal blow, the fall from potential and bright tomorrows to a drear and bleak world devoid of Love, Hope and Faith. If there is any brightness in his poetry, it is as a rare lightning-flash placing a dead city in silhouette before itself extinguishing. 'The City of Dreadful Night' is certainly his greatest work, in terms of exploring a mythical London always bathed in darkness; as could only be interpreted by an alcoholic, insomniac who tread London's streets by night until dawn. His London is not so much a geography of cartographers, but a black spiritual state an amoral labyrinth without exit or reprieve. The piece requires great strength from the reader to not only endure, but to profit from the arduous ordeal. Other recommended poems are 'Insomnia', 'To Our Ladies of Death' and 'L'Ancien Régime; or the Grand Old Rule'. Caustic and stark in their purity, they are certainly NOT intended for the many, their bitter draughts may only be savoured by the isolated few. Highly recommended !!!