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.
 
New York
By John Gould Fletcher
 
To Richard Aldington

    OUT of the black granite she is rising surprising as sunrise over the head of the Sphinx, glittering towers coated in linked scales that seem as if they might melt away—they are so pale—but that day pours multitudes about them to smile and to threaten, to sin and to ’scape the reckoning, to coagulate in iron knots against fate, to blot out life’s misery with rejoicing, to clamor and to pray.
    Restless hammers are carving new cities from the stagnant skies.
 
    Beneath, the earth is propped and caverned; monstrous halls drop with vaulted echoing roofs dripping and sorrowful far below; the bells toll and the trains start slowly, clanging, shaking the earth and the sad towers above them as they go banging their cargo of lost ones towards the secret gates of the sea; falling, falling with thunder and flame roaring and crawling, shooting and dying away.
    Restless hammers are carving new cities from the stagnant skies.
 
    Aloft, red girders of riveted steel hang motionless over the abyss. Down below the traffic slides, and from precipitous sides unroll golden threads, like spiders contriving, carrying their freight. Men with hammers are striving to hack new projections on the edifice: and from the last impenetrable overhanging beam, a man is dangling on his belly guiding the weight. The clouds explode in hissing ripples of snow about him; the skies are dim and the stream of life falls through them sighing, like wheat that crashes into the hopper. But the last pinnacles eat into the clouds and from their bronze sides pours down the day, sweeping away the sordid flood of men in streams of weeping glory.        5
    Restless hammers are carving new cities from the stagnant skies.
 
    Screaming and flickering, like loosened floods of blue flame, the streets run together amid the houses that huddle and leap and lower over them. The houses quiver with rage and heat from heads to feet; the façades seem wavering, toppling, tearing with their weight: the glaring panes bulge outwards, and the bent red girders ooze away beneath them. But above it all, above all the chaos, the struggle and the loss, the clouds part. Ivory and gold, heart of light petrified, bold and immortally beautiful, lifts a tower like a full lily stalk, with crammed pollen-coated petals, flame calyx, fretted and carven. White phoenix that beats its wings in the light, shrill ecstasy of leaping lines poised in flight, partaker of joy in the skies, mate of the sun.
    Restless hammers are carving new cities from the stagnant skies.
 
 
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