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.
 
Emporium versus New York, 1854 (abridged)
By Jacob Bigelow
 
WITH head erect and stately stride,
In Broadway, on the western side,
I marched, and viewed, in conscious pride,
  The splendours of New York.
 
What gorgeous domes confront the sky,        5
What proud hotels are soaring high,
What windows lure the passers by,
  The strangers in New York!
 
All gems are there in sparkling showers,
All trophies of barbaric powers,        10
And fabrics wrought for princely dowers,
  Are gathered in New York.
 
And pilgrims press with eager feet,
And curious eyes with wonders meet
In Broadway’s world-surpassing street,        15
  The glory of New York.
 
Tall ships are in from many a shore,
And streets and shops are running o’er,
And lumbering drays can hold no more
  The transport of New York.        20
 
I tried in vain to cross the street,
Where whirling wheels cut off retreat,
And clattering tramp of horses’ feet
  Announced the great New York.
 
I gazed upon the motley throng;        25
The ceaseless current surged along,
And sinewy legs and elbows strong
  Went struggling through New York.
 
Saxons and Celts, and Greeks and Jews,
Creoles, Italians and Hindoos,        30
Germans and Franks and Kickapoos,
  All crowded in New York.
 
I looked ahead and read the fates,
I scanned the rise and fall of states,
And saw the destiny that waits        35
  The future of New York.
 
Not fifty years shall pass when she,
Whose commerce floats on every sea,
The world’s first banking-place shall be,
  Though then no more “New York.”        40
 
Indignant voices shall proclaim,
That she, the first in wealth and fame,
No more shall wear the paltry name
  Of pitiful “New York.”
 
When old Æneas and his boy        45
From the mast-head cried “Rome, ahoy!”
They did not call the place New Troy,
  Like fools that named New York.
 
When Moses led his wandering Jews
To bathe their feet in Canaan’s dews,        50
They proved too wise to name and use
  New Egypt, like New York.
 
New Amsterdam, might fit the Dutch;
But when the English got their clutch,
Why need they coin another such        55
  And dub the town “New York”?
 
I summon poets, one and all,
Who help to spin this mundane ball,
To rescue from degrading thrall
  The trodden-down New York.        60
 
I call on patriots, fierce or tame,
To wipe away this burning shame,
And kick down hill, with one acclaim,
  Detestable “New York.”
 
Vast continents have changed their name;        65
Cities and ladies do the same,
A part for pride and part for shame,
  Both which should move New York.
 
New Holland is Australia now;
Toronto made one “York” to bow;        70
The late Miss Smith is Mrs. Howe;
  Why don’t you change New York?
 
A generous name sounds well in verse,
A bad one is a clinging curse;
I never heard nor dreamt a worse        75
  Than pestilent “New York.”
 
I ask a bold, descriptive name,
Of classic birth and faultless claim,
To grow amid the growing fame
  Of what was once New York.        80
 
Emporium shall that title be,
The empire mart of earth and sea,
The central city of the free;
  EMPORIUM,—not New York!
 
 
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