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.
 
Spring in Town
By William Cullen Bryant
 
THE COUNTRY ever has a lagging Spring,
  Waiting for May to call its violets forth,
And June its roses—showers and sunshine bring,
  Slowly, the deeping verdure o’er the earth;
To put their foliage out, the woods are slack,        5
And one by one the singing-birds come back.
 
Within the city’s bounds the time of flowers
  Comes earlier. Let a mild and sunny day,
Such as full often, for a few bright hours,
  Breathes through the sky of March the airs of May,        10
Shine on our roofs and chase the wintry gloom—
And lo! our borders glow with sudden bloom.
 
For the wide sidewalks of Broadway are then
  Gorgeous as are a rivulet’s banks in June,
That overhung with blossoms, through its glen,        15
  Slides soft away beneath the sunny noon,
And they who search the untrodden wood for flowers
Meet in its depths no lovelier ones than ours.
 
For here are eyes that shame the violet,
  Or the dark drop that on the pansy lies,        20
And foreheads, white, as when in clusters set,
  The anemones by forest mountains rise;
And the spring-beauty boasts no tenderer streak
Than the soft red on many a youthful cheek.
 
And thick about those lovely temples lie        25
  Locks that the lucky Vignardonne has curled,
Thrice happy man! whose trade it is to buy,
  And bake, and braid those love-knots of the world;
Who curls of every glossy colour keepest,
And sellest, it is said, the blackest cheapest.        30
 
And well thou mayst—for Italy’s brown maids
  Send the dark locks with which their brows are dressed,
And Gascon lasses, from their jetty braids,
  Crop half, to buy a riband for the rest;
But the fresh Norman girls their tresses spare,        35
And the Dutch damsel keeps her flaxen hair.
 
Then, henceforth, let no maid nor matron grieve,
  To see her locks of an unlovely hue,
Frouzy or thin, for liberal art shall give
  Such piles of curls as nature never knew.        40
Eve with her veil of tresses, at the sight
Had blushed, outdone, and owned herself a fright.
 
Soft voices and light laughter wake the street,
  Like notes of woodbirds, and where’er the eye
Threads the long way, plumes wave, and twinkling feet        45
  Fall light, as hastes that crowd of beauty by.
The ostrich, hurrying o’er the desert space,
Scarce bore those tossing plumes with fleeter pace.
 
No swimming Juno gait, of languor born,
  Is theirs, but a light step of freest grace,        50
Light as Camilla’s o’er the unbent corn;—
  A step that speaks the spirit of the place,
Since Quiet, meek old dame, was driven away
To Sing Sing and the shores of Tappan bay.
 
Ye that dash by in chariots! who will care        55
  For steeds or footmen now? ye cannot show
Fair face, and dazzling dress, and graceful air,
  And last edition of the shape! Ah, no,
These sights are for the earth and open sky,
And your loud wheels unheeded rattle by.        60
 
 
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