ANONYMOUS
‘To the City of London’ (c.1501/02)

The anonymous poet seems to have taken part in a mission to London in 1501 to arrange the marriage of James IV of Scotland to Mary Tudor. The occasion for this poem was probably a reception for the mission by the Lord Major of London in Christmas week of that year. On December 31st, Henry VII had a payment of 6.13s.4d made ‘to the Rhymer of Scotland in reward’.

At one time the poem was attributed to William Dunbar (1465?–1530?), court poet to James IV.

London, thou art of townes A per se.
Sovereign of cities, semeliest in sight,
Of high renoun, riches, and royaltie;
Of lordis, barons, and many goodly knyght;
Of most delectable lusty ladies bright;
Of famous prelatis in habitis clericall;
Of merchaunts full of substaunce and myght:
London, thou art the flour of Cities all.

Gladdith anon, thou lusty Troy Novaunt,
Citie that some tyme cleped was New Troy,
In all the erth, imperiall as thou stant,
Pryncesse of townes, of pleasure, and of joy,
A richer restith under no Christen roy;
For manly power, with craftis naturall,
Fourmeth none fairer sith the flode of Noy:
London, thou art the flour of Cities all.

Gemme of all joy, jasper of jocunditie,
Most myghty carbuncle of vertue and valour;
Strong Troy in vigour and in strenuytie;
Of royall cities rose and geraflour;
Empresse of townes, exalt in honour;
In beawtie beryng the crone imperiall;
Swete paradise precelling in pleasure:
London, thow art the floure of Cities all.

Above all ryvers they Ryver hath renowne,
Whose beryall stremys, pleasaunt and preclare,
Under thy lusty wallys renneth down,
Where many a swanne doth swymme with wyngis fare;
Where many a barge doth saile, and row with are,
Where many a ship doth rest with toppe-royall.
O! towne of townes, patrone and not-compare:
London, thou art the floure of Cities all.

Upon thys lusty Brigge of pylers white
Been merchauntis full royall to behold;
Upon thy stretis goth many a semely knyght
In velvet gownes and cheynes of fune gold.
By Julyus Cesar thy Tour founded of old
May be the hous of Mars victoryall,
Whos artillary with tonge may not be told:
London, thou art the flour of Cities all.

Strong be thy wallis that about the standis;
Wise be the people that within the dwellis;
Fresh is thy ryver with is lusty strandis;
Blith be thy chirches, wele sownyng be they bellis;
Riche be thy merchauntis in substaunce that excellis;
Fair be they wives, right lovesom, white and small;
Clere by thy virgyns, lusty under kellis:
London, thow art the flour of Cities all.

The famous Maire, by pryncely governaunce,
With swerd of justice the rulith prudently.
No Lord of Parys, Venyce, or Floraunce
In dignytie or honoure goeth to hym nye.
He is exampler, loode-ster, and guye;
Principall patrone and roose orygynalle,
Above all Maires as maister moost worthy:
London, thou art the flour of Cities all.

Last modified, 16-Jan-2002 .
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