Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Palmetto Town
By Hervey Allen
 
From “The Sea-islands”

SEA-ISLAND winds sweep through Palmetto Town,
Bringing with piny tang the old romance
Of pirates and of smuggling gentlemen;
And tongues as languorous as southern France
Flow down her streets like water-talk at fords;        5
While through iron gates where pickaninnies sprawl
The sound comes back, in rippled banjo chords,
From lush magnolia shades where mockers call.
Mornings, the flower-women bring their wares—
Bronze caryatids of a genial race,        10
Bearing the bloom-heaped baskets on their heads;
Lithe, with their arms akimbo in wide grace,
Their jasmine nodding jestingly at cares.
Turbaned they are, deep-chested, straight and tall,
Bandying old English words now seldom heard        15
But sweet as Provençal.
Dreams peer like prisoners through her harp-like gates
From molten gardens mottled with gray gloom,
Where lichened sundials shadow ancient dates,
And deep piazzas loom.        20
Fringing her quays are frayed palmetto posts,
Where clipper ships once moored along the ways,
And fanlight doorways, sunstruck with old ghosts,
Sicken with loves of her lost yesterdays.
Often I halt upon some gabled walk,        25
Thinking I see the ear-ringed picaroons,
Slashed with a sash and Spanish folderols,
Gambling for moidores or for gold doubloons.
But they have gone where night goes after day;
And the old streets are gay with whistled tunes,        30
Bright with the lilt of scarlet parasols
Carried by honey-voiced young octoroons.
 
 
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