Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
At Half-Past Five
By Andrew E. Watrous
A February Fancy

THIS is a common dream enough—
  You’ve dreamt it, friend, and so have I
Along with like romantic stuff
  Of how and when a man would die.
Futile! It matters little, when        5
  Upon Death’s roll we’re reached and read
Where are we; the one wish is then
  For more names ’twixt ours and the head.
We lazy fellows like to prate
  Of battles o’er and marches done;        10
Yet in the grim king’s army great,
  Conscript, methinks, is every one.
Yet more a fool than dreamer he
  (And fools in this are most alive)
Who may in dreams, seen dreams to be,        15
  Joy not. I’d die at half-past five,
Then when the flood of Broadway’s tide
  Sets upward through the winter mist
From the slim city’s either side,
  Drawn like thin glove on slender wrist;        20
With all the league of lights aflare,
  Above the hurrying roar and bustle
That makes for avenue and square,
  As if for life were strained each muscle;
When Trinity points, there below,        25
  Still skyward, with its awful face
Framed by the red sun’s afterglow,
  In solemn flame from spire to base—
Then, in this queer old cross-town street,
  By some dim window, where, at length,        30
Day, dying, wholly failed to meet
  The task that taxed its noonday strength,
As in my dull ear duller grew
  The hum, as fainter to my eyes
The shimmer of the street-lamps through        35
  The mist that took in two worlds’ rise,
A moment would my numb brain seize
  What prank Fate played so straight-faced well,
To keep me toiling like to these
  For what I could not dying tell—        40
A moment would there at the pest
  Flash laughter—far would buzz their hive,
Then stilled this beat here in the breast,
  As night came down at half-past five.

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