DOWN-GAZING, I behold,
Miraculous by night,
A city all of gold.
Here, there, and everywhere,
In myriad fashion fair,
A mystery untold
Not royal Babylon,
Nor Tyre, nor Rome the great—
In the all-powerful state
Her wisdom and her armèd legions won—
Was so illuminate
As this strange world which, awed, I look upon.
With it compared, the ancient glories fail,
And, in the glow it doth irradiate,
The planets of the firmament grow pale!
Night, birth-fellow to Chaos, never wore
A robe so gemmed before.
The splendor streams
In lines and jets and scintillating gleams
From tower and spire and campanile bright,
And palaces of light.
How beautiful is this
City of wealth and want,
Of pitiless extremes,
Selfish ambitions, pure aspiring dreams;
Whose miseries, remembered, daunt
The bravest spirit hope hath cheered—
This city loved and hated, honored, feared:
This Titan City, bold to dare:
This wounded Might
That, dreading darkness, covers up its care
And hides its gaping hurt 'neath veils of light!
Oh, I have looked on Venice when the moon
Silvered each dark lagoon,
And have in dreams beheld her
Clothed in resplendent pride,
The Adriatic's bride!
Naples I, too, have seen—
An even lovelier Queen—
And thought that nothing in the world excelled her—
Nay, marvelled, as at close of day
I gazed across her opalescent bay
And saw Vesuvius burn on high
Against the soft Italian sky,
That anything on earth could wear
A charm so past compare!
But, O Manhattan! Glowing now
Against the sombre night,
Thine opulence and squalor hid from sight,
Never was aught more beautiful than thou
Dost in thy calm appear—
So glorified and so transfigured here—
Since the Eternal, to creation stirred,
Breathed from His awful lips the mystic word:—
Let there be Light!