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.
 
From the Woolworth Tower
By Sara Teasdale
 
VIVID with love, eager for greater beauty
Out of the night we came
Into the corridor, brilliant and warm.
A metal door slides open,
And the lift receives us.        5
Swiftly, with sharp unswerving flight
The car shoots upward,
And the air, swirling and angry,
Howls like a hundred devils.
Past the maze of trim bronze doors,        10
Steadily we ascend
I cling to you
Conscious of the chasm under us,
And a terrible whirring deafens my ears.
 
The flight is ended.        15
 
We pass through a door leading onto the ledge—
Wind, night and space!
Oh terrible height
Why have we sought you?
Oh bitter wind with icy invisible wings        20
Why do you beat us?
Why would you bear us away?
We look through the miles of air,
The cold blue miles between us and the city,
Over the edge of eternity we look        25
On all the lights,
A thousand times more numerous than the stars;
Oh lines and loops of light in unwound chains
That mark for miles and miles
The vast black mazy cobweb of the streets;        30
Near us clusters and splashes of living gold
That change far off to bluish steel
Where the fragile lights on the Jersey shore
Tremble like drops of wind-stirred dew.
The strident noises of the city        35
Floating up to us
Are hallowed into whispers.
Ferries cross through the darkness
Weaving a golden thread into the night,
Their whistles weird shadows of sound.        40
 
We feel the millions of humanity beneath us,—
The warm millions, moving under the roofs,
Consumed by their own desires;
Preparing food,
Sobbing alone in a garret,        45
With burning eyes bending over a needle,
Aimlessly reading the evening paper,
Dancing in the naked light of the café,
Laying out the dead,
Bringing a child to birth—        50
The sorrow, the torpor, the bitterness, the frail joy
Come up to us
Like a cold fog wrapping us round,
Oh in a hundred years
      Not one of these blood-warm bodies        55
But will be worthless as clay.
The anguish, the torpor, the toil
Will have passed to other millions
Consumed by the same desires.
Ages will come and go,        60
Darkness will blot the lights
And the tower will be laid on the earth.
The sea will remain
Black and unchanging,
The stars will look down        65
Brilliant and unconcerned.
 
Beloved,
Tho’ sorrow, futility, defeat
Surround us,
They cannot bear us down.        70
Here on the abyss of eternity
Love has crowned us
For a moment
Victors.
 
 
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