Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
New York, from a Skyscraper
By James Oppenheim
UP in the heights of the evening skies I see my City of cities float
In sunset’s golden and crimson dyes: I look, and a great joy clutches my throat!
Plateau of roofs by canyons crossed: windows by thousands fire-unfurled
O gazing, how the heart is lost in the Deepest City in the World!
O sprawling City! Worlds in a world! Housing each strange type that is human—        5
Yonder a Little Italy curled—here the haunt of the Scarlet Woman—
The night’s white Bacchanals of Broadway—the Ghetto pushcarts ringed with faces—
Wall Street’s roar and the Plaza’s play—a weltering focus of all Earth’s races!
Walking your Night’s many-nationed byways—brushing Sicilians and Jews and Greeks—
Meeting gaunt Bread Lines on your highways—watching night-clerks in your flaming peaks—        10
Marking your Theatres’ outpour of splendour—pausing on doorsteps with resting Mothers—
I marvelled at Christs with their messages tender, their daring dream of a World of Brothers!
Brothers? What means Irish to Greek? What the Ghetto to Morningside?
How shall we weld the strong and the weak while millions struggle with light denied?
Yet, but to follow these Souls where they roam—ripping off housetops, the city’s mask—        15
At Night I should find each one in a Home, at Morn I should find each one at a Task!
Labour and Love, four-million divided—surely the millions at last are a-move—
Surely the Brotherhood-slant is decided—the Social Labour, the Social Love!
Surely four millions of Souls close-gathered in this one spot could stagger the world—
O City, Earth’s Future is Mothered and Fathered where your great streets feel the Man-tides hurled!        20
For the Souls in one car where they hang on the straps could send this City a-wing through the starred—
Each man is a tiny Faucet that taps the infinite reservoir of God!—
What if they turned the Faucet full stream? What if our millions to-night were aware?
What if to-morrow they built to their Dream the City of Brothers in laughter and prayer?

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