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.
 
The Balloon, 1819 (abridged)
By Moses Y. Scott
 
“HUZZA! Huzza! clear, clear the way!
“Run—the Balloon goes up to-day!”
See old and young, black, white, and all
Fill every passage to Vauxhall!
Vauxhall, the gold—the flooded shore        5
Where streams from every quarter pour.
See the innumerable throng,
That in the Bowery crowd along!
See dandy coats and bonnets gay,
Shawls, ribbons, stream along Broad-way!        10
See carts and coaches dashing on!
See men and boys and women run!
They come, they come, from every side,
Like bubbles on a rushing tide!
They drive with half Niagara’s force—        15
Nor ever fleeter was his course.
Greece never pour’d to Troja’s wall
  So great a throng, so vast a battle—
Call, call your Hector forth, Vauxhall!
  Their shouts arise! their chariots rattle.        20
Is it revenge, or hate or fear,
Or wonder urges their career?
It must be Wonder’s trumpet loud!
Nought else could draw so vast a crowd.
But soon the driving storm is past—        25
They all have reached the goal at last!
Why, what a squeezing, Virgil’s bees
Were not so numerous as these!
Such multitudes, Communipaw 1
Of evening singers never saw.        30
Nor did a sunbeam ever sprawl
Such swarms as Monsieur Guillé’s ball.
Like sheep enclosed that burst their bar—
Like locusts darkening Egypt’s air,
They push and crowd, and squeeze, and—“O,        35
That rascal trod upon my toe!”
“Back, back!—there—yonder’s the balloon!
“We all shall see it moving soon!”
 
The multitude turns all its eyes
Right where the flying wonder lies.        40
From cart and window; coach and door,
From wall, and housetop covered o’er,
From step and block, and shed and tree,
Where boys, like squirrels, climb to see,
All gaze, all wonder, all desire        45
To see poor Monsieur Guillé higher.
’Tis all attention, save when rise
Some false alarm of “there it flies!”
Or “Voyez donc! le ballon va!—
Mon Dieu! J’ai peur qu’il n’ira pas!”        50
Or save when in the crowd there pass
Some learned disputes about the gas.
One cannot get it in his eye
What makes the mighty bladder fly.
One fears delay is loss of toil;        55
And one is sure the gas will spoil.
And now to show his depth profound,
Some wise man calls an audience round.
With arm akimbo, and with brow
That says—behold importance now!        60
“I can expound all to your eyes—
“Mark yon circumference e’er it flies!
“You see the gas within is brighter
“And being twenty-one times lighter
“Than”— But a loud shout interposes.        65
And with “She mounts” the harangue closes.
“Huzza! huzza!” tongues, hands, and eyes,
Shout, clap, and strain to see it rise—
All tiptoe stand—“Up! up, Balloon!”
But ah! it stops this side the moon.        70
“Friends, you can homeward take your way!
“The balloon—don’t ascend to-day!”
 
Note 1. It was from Communipaw that the Moschetoes came, which swarmed upon New York this season. [back]
 
 
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