Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: I. Personal: Great Writers
Fitz-Greene Halleck
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
[Read at the Unveiling of His Statue in Central Park, May, 1877]

AMONG their graven shapes to whom
  Thy civic wreaths belong,
O city of his love! make room
  For one whose gift was song.
 
Not his the soldier’s sword to wield,        5
  Nor his the helm of state,
Nor glory of the stricken field,
  Nor triumph of debate.
 
In common ways, with common men,
  He served his race and time        10
As well as if his clerkly pen
  Had never danced to rhyme.
 
If, in the thronged and noisy mart,
  The Muses found their son,
Could any say his tuneful art        15
  A duty left undone?
 
He toiled and sang; and year by year
  Men found their homes more sweet,
And through a tenderer atmosphere
  Looked down the brick-walled street.        20
 
The Greek’s wild onset Wall Street knew,
  The Red King walked Broadway;
And Alnwick Castle’s roses blew
  From Palisades to Bay.
 
Fair City by the Sea! upraise        25
  His veil with reverent hands;
And mingle with thy own the praise
  And pride of other lands.
 
Let Greece his fiery lyric breathe
  Above her hero-urns;        30
And Scotland, with her holly, wreathe
  The flowers he culled for Burns.
 
O, stately stand thy palace walls,
  Thy tall ships ride the seas;
To-day thy poet’s name recalls        35
  A prouder thought than these.
 
Not less thy pulse of trade shall beat,
  Nor less thy tall fleets swim,
That shaded square and dusty street
  Are classic ground through him.        40
 
Alive, he loved, like all who sing,
  The echoes of his song;
Too late the tardy meed we bring,
  The praise delayed so long.
 
Too late, alas!—Of all who knew        45
  The living man, to-day
Before his unveiled face how few
  Make bare their locks of gray!
 
Our lips of praise must soon be dumb,
  Our grateful eyes be dim;        50
O, brothers of the days to come,
  Take tender charge of him!
 
New hands the wires of song may sweep,
  New voices challenge fame;
But let no moss of years o’ercreep        55
  The lines of Halleck’s name.
 
 
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