Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
Chinatown Visited
By George Macdonald Major
FROM sullen skies a cheerless rain
That floods the half-choked gutter drain;
Ramshackle houses, brick and wood,
Where hides Disease with shroud and hood;
Worn doors, uncurtained window-panes        5
And mucky streets and garbage lanes—
  And this is—this is Chinatown.
    Pattering feet of Chinamen,
      Holima, Ching-la,
    Ribald girls of Chinatown;        10
      Joss! how foul they are.
Within the ever-swinging door
The halls uncarpeted, where pour
The pungent, sickening opium fumes
From out the poorly furnished rooms,        15
Where spots of gilt and red attest
What dingy finery is the rest—
  In Chinatown, in Chinatown.
    Raising Cain in Chinatown,
      Drink, and dope and toss;        20
    Day and night are but a day,
      Not a God, but Joss.
The Joss, a paint-daubed idol pent,
The third floor of a tenement,
Draped faded silk and tawdry gold,        25
Where wrinkled priests their service hold
While barbarous drum and banjos whine,
Make thoughts infernal not divine—
  Within the fane of Chinatown.
    Pictures of pagodas, too;        30
      Tea-fields stretching down
    Lumbering junks and sampan boats—
      This is Chinatown.
And women old before their time,
With faces cursed by drink or crime,        35
From many open casements peer
At huddling Chinamen who leer
From doors of dens where gamblers meet
Or dives or corners of the street—
  In tawdry, slattern Chinatown.        40
    Calling out to sailor men:
      “Sailor mokki hi,
    Fightin’ dlunk in Doyers Stleet,
      China gel no li!”

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