A summer idyl
The city is dreary and dusty and lone,
The Smiths and the Joneses and Jenkinses gone;
The doors are all barred, and the shutters all down,
And nobody left in this desolate town---
Save the sweeper who wearily loiters and lags,
The ashman, and he who cries "Bottles and rags!"
And a hurrying crowd one knows nothing about,
Though each one of them somebody cares for, no doubt;
The streets everywhere are plowed into a rut,
For putting down pipes that never stay put.
Gazing up from my window above may be scanned
A strip of the sky as wide as my hand;
At least a square yard once of emerald green;
But now from the heat and sewer-gas, behold!
It has taken the favorite hue of old gold.
Then the odors,---not Milton's Sabean, I own,
Nor yet those that Coleridge found at Cologne,
But here to our trained, tried olfactories known,
As the Hunter's Point perfume---from boiling old bone.
You boast of your singing birds lodged in the trees,
Of the dash of the waves, the sigh of the breeze,
The lowing of herds, the hum of the bees---
Sweet voices of Nature,---but what are all these
The wail of the cats as they stray o'er the fences;
Till a friend at my side, in a rage going on,
Makes use of "cuss words" and calls for his gun.
And here comes the organ that stops at our door,
To grind out its music that makes, with the roar
Of the wagons and carts as they rumble and jolt
O'er the roughly paved streets, a prolonged thunderbolt;
And every two minutes the up-in-air train
Goes whirring along like a demon insane;
Till all thought is dispersed, like a mist in the air,
And silence is golden, we meekly declare.
Then the heat that no thoughts of the blizzard assuage,
When Phoebus and Fahrenheit start a rampage;
And when "General Humidity" joins in the tilt,
Like plucked flowers of the field the poor mortal must wilt,
Till he cries, like the wit, in disconsolate tones,
To take off his flesh and sit in his bones.
But, however, to sum up and make myself clear,
For July and August I would not be here;
But give me New-York for nine months of the year,---
With all its shortcomings there 's no place so dear;
With its life and its rush, what it does and has done,
There is no city like it under the sun.
|This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.|