Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
Verrazano in New York Harbour, 1524
By Clinton Scollard
 
VERRAZANO, Verrazano, child of Arno’s golden vale,
Wooer of life’s great adventure, master of the streaming sail,
O’er the chartless seas of silence from a fellow voyager, hail!
 
I can view you as the morning lit your peak with windy flame,
On the day the West beguiled you with the glamour of its name,        5
When the dauntless Dolphin ventured on the peril-path of Fame!
 
Osprey-like above the spindrift, through your brain fair dreams had play,
Flushed with all the hues of sunset, iridescent as the spray,
Visions of the wonder-islands and the treasures of Cathay.
 
Verrazano, Verrazano, I can mark the heavy hours,—        10
Striding winds upon the waters, and tumultuous tropic showers,
And the strange bright stars at midnight, ere you neared the Land of Flowers.
 
I can picture its allurement,—bloom as of eternal spring,
Attar from the jasmine blossoms in the palms and pines a-swing,
What it meant to worn sea-rovers spent with weary wandering!        15
 
But now oped no halcyon haven, this was not the far-sought goal.
Though it might be hung with garlands like a radiant aureole;
Here was not the crown’s attainment for a virile seaman soul!
 
Verrazano, Verrazano, then it was the North beguiled
With the magic of its trumpets blowing loud and blowing wild;        20
And you listed to its summons like an outcast long exiled.
 
In the purple drift of twilight dappled dune and wood slipped by;
Reedy cove and barren headland rocked beneath a cloud-tossed sky;
While the taut breeze through the cordage chanted sagas clear and high.
 
Cliffs that bore no blazing beacon save the flare of savage flames,        25
Capes that ne’er had heard a greeting save the sea-mew’s shrill acclaims.
How you cried them salutation with your sweet Italian names!
 
Verrazano, Verrazano,—Chesapeake and Delaware,
They to you were soft Santanna linked with Palamsina fair,
Then you sighted San Germano in the crimson evening air.        30
 
San Germano!—our Manhattan, virginal with vernal shores,
Its incomparable harbour opening as do silvern doors
Swinging to the sound of music that from blended viols pours.
 
While in liquid under-ether at repose your anchor hung,
And the thrush’s vesper anthem from the slopes about you rung,        35
Did you breast the tides of slumber amid dreams that closed and clung?
 
Verrazano, Verrazano, in the mazes of that night
Did some prophecy enfold you, did some prescience clothe your sight
With today’s still-growing marvels, height upon triumphant height?
 
Pendant Babylonian gardens, Ninevean temples tall,        40
Climbing Carthaginian ramparts, Susan dome and Tyrian wall,
All that Rome revealed of splendour—had not this majestic thrall!—
 
Had not this imperious import;—Commerce in exultant sway;
Affluence of every nation moored within one matchless bay;
From the calyx of the ages a miraculous Cathay!        45
 
Yours by virtue of brave questing, yours, by right of primal law,
The discoverer’s chrism of glory, that omnipotence of awe
Such as Moses knew on Pisgah when he raised his eyes—and saw!
 
Verrazano, Verrazano, howso’er you trim your sail,
Seeking still the great adventure far beyond our mortal pale,        50
O’er the chartless seas of silence from a fellow voyager, hail!
 
 
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