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.
 
Fanny Elssler, 1840
(extract from An Elssleralic Romance)
Anonymous
 
THE CLOCK has struck, we mean St. Paul’s—
And hark! there goes the City Hall’s;
’Tis noon, a sunny noon in May,
  The park is cloth’d in early green,
While beauty, floating through Broadway,        5
  In dyes of ev’ry shade is seen!
Upon the lofty steps behold,
  Of the “American” or “Astor,”
Groups of the gallant and the bold—
Mustached and strapp’d, of fashion’s mould;        10
  Their glances after beauty cast, or
As often turned themselves to view,
A set of precious beauties too,
  From boot to castor!
The ’Busses roll by dozens by,        15
  The cabs, and hacks, half crazy, rattle;
The private carriage solemnly
  Glides on in dignity of cattle;
The City Hall, too, loftily,
Above the trees is soaring; see!        20
A glow upon its marble face,
Gives it a sort of modest grace,
As though it blush’d for its inferior
And unillumined brown posterior!
While Justice, perchèd high in air,        25
  And smiling in the pleasant ray,
Seems just as light of conscience there,
  As if it were not “sentence day.”
 
Three hours—it lacks three hours of dark—
  What murmur rises on the air—        30
The sound of many voices—hark!
  And from the Astor steps, look there!
That crowd investing the old “Park,”
  As if half mad they were!
And Blake has had a busy time,        35
  The “first tier” gone, the boxes private;
The “second,” “third,” yet rings the chime
  Most welcome—“places” still they strive at.
And now the rosy day descends—
  The Jersey flats, the bay, and islands        40
Are bathed in the rich light it lends;
  Weehawken too, and Brooklyn highlands;
And, lingering, thy lofty spire
And ball, St. Paul’s, are wreathed in fire—
The longing glances of the Sun,        45
That thence, “Old Drury” look upon!
But, “La Déesse,” thy hour is night,
By magic made than day more bright;
Go, lagging beams, the struggle vain,
Resplendent gas usurps thy reign.        50
 
Too eager fool! we find ourselves
  Scrouged in a corner of the pit;
While carried out by tens and twelves
  The fainting fair the boxes quit.
The overture!—oh, agony        55
  Of pressure and of expectation;
Hats off—sit down—get up—dear me!
  Toes—elbows—struggle—suffocation;
The orchestra’s invaded, and
  The stage behold them now a-cramming;        60
While, louder than the music band,
  Is heard remonstrance, prayer and d—g!
But what is this which stills the roar,
Which bids the groaning groan no more;
Which, like an angel’s glance below        65
Into the murky pits of woe
Bids sound of sin and blasphemy
  Subside into an anxious hope
That one so rare and heavenly
  Hath come the fatal gates to ope!        70
What is it? La Déesse! ’tis she!
  As ne’er before, she smileth now,
An angel promise certainly,
  And she hath still’d the row!
An airy, fairy wingèd thing!        75
With drapery, untaught to fling
  A veil o’er aught so bright, so fair:
A film, made of imagining,
  She seems to wear!
As faintly floating round the moon.        80
By poet seen at starry noon,
Or silv’ry mist, a shifting sheen.
Frenzy and love each change between,
  Is seen!
In mazy beauty only clad,        85
She moves—we’re mad!
 
 
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