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 “Stay at Home’s” Plaint, 1878
By George A. Baker, Jr.
 
THE SPRING has grown to Summer;
  The sun is fierce and high;
The city shrinks and withers
  Beneath a burning sky.
Ailanthus trees are fragrant,        5
  And thicker shadows cast,
While berry-girls, with voices shrill,
  And watering-carts go past.
 
In offices like ovens
  We sit without our coats;        10
Our cuffs are moist and shapeless,
  No collars bind our throats.
We carry huge umbrellas
  On Broad Street and on Wall,
Oh, how thermometers go up!        15
  And, oh, how stocks do fall!
 
The nights are full of music,
  Melodious Teuton troops
Beguile us, calmly smoking,
  On balconies and stoops.        20
With eyes half-shut and dreamy,
  We watch the fire-flies’ spark,
And image far-off faces,
  As day dies into dark.
 
The avenue is lonely,        25
  The houses choked with dust;
The shutters, barred and bolted,
  The bell-knobs all a-rust.
No blossom-like spring dresses,
  No faces young and fair,        30
From “Dickels” to “The Brunswick,”
  No promenader there.
 
The girls we used to walk with
  Are far away, alas!
The feet that kissed its pavement        35
  Are deep in country grass.
Along the scented hedge-rows,
  Among the green old trees,
Are blooming city faces
  ’Neath rosy-lined pongees.        40
 
They’re cottaging at Newport;
  They’re bathing at Cape May;
In Saratoga’s ball-rooms
  They dance the hours away.
Their voices through the quiet        45
  Of haunted Catskill break;
Or rouse those dreamy dryads,
  The nymphs of Echo Lake.
 
The hands we’ve led through Germans,
  And squeezed, perchance, of yore,        50
Now deftly grasp the bridle,
  The mallet, and the oar.
The eyes that wrought our ruin
  On other men look down;
We’re but the broken play-things        55
  They’ve left behind in town.
 
 
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