Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Middle States: Elizabeth, N. J.
Ilium Fuit
Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833–1908)
 
Washington’s Headquarters

ONE by one they died,—
  Last of all their race;
Nothing left but pride,
    Lace, and buckled hose.
Their quietus made,        5
  On their dwelling-place
Ruthless hands are laid:
    Down the old house goes!
 
See the ancient manse
  Meet its fate at last!        10
Time, in his advance,
    Age nor honor knows;
Axe and broadaxe fall,
  Lopping off the Past:
Hit with bar and maul,        15
    Down the old house goes!
 
Sevenscore years it stood:
  Yes, they built it well,
Though they built of wood,
    When that house arose.        20
For its cross-beams square
  Oak and walnut fell;
Little worse for wear,
    Down the old house goes!
 
Rending board and plank,        25
  Men with crowbars ply,
Opening fissures dank,
    Striking deadly blows.
From the gabled roof
  How the shingles fly!        30
Keep you here aloof,—
    Down the old house goes!
 
Holding still its place,
  There the chimney stands,
Stanch from top to base,        35
    Frowning on its foes.
Heave apart the stones,
  Burst its iron bands!
How it shakes and groans!
    Down the old house goes!        40
 
Round the mantel-piece
  Glisten Scripture tiles;
Henceforth they shall cease
    Painting Egypt’s woes,
Painting David’s fight,        45
  Fair Bathsheba’s smiles,
Blinded Samson’s might,—
    Down the old house goes!
 
On these oaken floors
  High-shoed ladies trod;        50
Through those panelled doors
    Trailed their furbelows:
Long their day has ceased;
  Now, beneath the sod,
With the worms they feast,—        55
    Down the old house goes!
 
Many a bride has stood
  In yon spacious room;
Here her hand was wooed
    Underneath the rose;        60
O’er that sill the dead
  Reached the family tomb:
All, that were, have fled,—
    Down the old house goes!
 
Once, in yonder hall,        65
  Washington, they say,
Led the New-Year’s ball,
    Stateliest of beaux!
O that minuet,
  Maids and matrons gay!        70
Are there such sights yet?
    Down the old house goes!
 
British troopers came
  Ere another year,
With their coats aflame,        75
    Mincing on their toes;
Daughters of the house
  Gave them haughty cheer,
Laughed to scorn their vows,—
    Down the old house goes!        80
 
Doorway high the box
  In the grass-plot spreads;
It has borne its locks
    Through a thousand snows;
In an evil day,        85
  From those garden-beds
Now ’t is hacked away,—
    Down the old house goes!
 
Lo! the sycamores,
  Scathed and scrawny mates,        90
At the mansion doors
    Shiver, full of woes;
With its life they grew,
  Guarded well its gates;
Now their task is through,—        95
    Down the old house goes!
 
On this honored site
  Modern trade will build,—
What unseemly fright
    Heaven only knows!        100
Something peaked and high,
  Smacking of the guild:
Let us heave a sigh,—
    Down the old house goes!
 
 
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