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.
 
Manhattan, 1609
By Edwin Markham
 
WHERE now the bells of Trinity are heard,
Once in the willows sang a hidden bird,
Where sits Columbia upon the height,
A stag pressed ferny hollows all the night.
Where now the Tombs disturbs the dark with sighs,        5
A lilied pond looked up to happy skies.
Where now behind a Doric colonnade
The busy pens compute the nation’s trade,
There on the rippling river’s reedy edge
A beaver built his lodge along the ledge:        10
And down Broadway, where now the millions pass,
Once ran a crest of flowers in seas of grass.
Manhattan, like a kneeling camel, lay,
Humped with her ridges, looking toward the Bay,
A hundred springs, a hundred hasty rills        15
Ran silverly among the little hills.
The world was hushed; September’s windy gold
Was edging all the boughs with beauty old;
And far-blown shreds of smoke
Went bluely winding over the woods of oak,        20
Or lifted whirls that lived their little span
Above the wigwams of Sapponikan.
 
A dusky hunter lurking on a ledge
Looked to the south, out to the ocean’s edge
And suddenly a sea-thing with white wings        25
Came like a moth the wind of evening brings.
What could the wonder be?
What shape of earth, what spirit of the sea?
A look, a cry, a leap,
And he went plunging down the rocky steep,        30
Flaring through tangled vines a sudden trail,
Crushing wild mints to scent the tender gale—
Down the long ridges ran,
Bearing the tidings to Sapponikan.
 
A great white weary ship came drifting in.        35
Upon her stern a painted moon she bore,
Upon her poop the starry heaven she wore;
While strange, grave men with beards upon the chin
Looked out with wondering eyes and alien speech,
Hailing the plumèd men upon the beach,        40
Down plunged an anchor, then with loud acclaim
Up went the flag of Holland like a flame!
 
 
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