Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
By Samuel McCoy
YOU say New York is lovelier than ever?
  Ah, is it still the city that I knew?
Is it still … tell me first, though, did you never
  Dine at that restaurant I sent you to?
You know—the little one that artists know of;        5
  The one you never find without a guide;
The one where no one ever makes a show of
  His worldly wealth, or puts on any “side.”
Much chance there was indeed of our dissembling,
  With those wild Indians there to squelch all sham!        10
Why, not one of us had a thing resembling
  (Even remotely) wealth—nor cared a damn!
You say you missed it? never once you dined there?
  I’m sorry! But perhaps you’d not have seen
The glamour that we fellows used to find there;        15
  It might have bored you—though I’m sure ’twas clean!
Not that that mattered! We were young and healthy,
  And breakfast, luncheons, never cost us much;
At night, with a half-dollar, we were wealthy,
  And dined there ravenously—always “dutch.”        20
Hesternæ rosæ! Yes, my Latin’s scrappy;
  I’m not quite certain that it’s apropos;
But still those yesterdays were, oh, so happy,
  And nights like those are wonderful to know!
I’ll try to show you … This is how you find it,        25
  This restaurant we called “The Hopeful Heart”—
A silly title; but you mustn’t mind it,
  We were all youngsters then, and mad on Art—
You leave the Avenue just where the church’s
  Calm finger points up to the summer stars,        30
And so go down the cross street till your search is
  Ended when you hear some lilting bars
Of music—some warm tenor voice is singing
  That old berceuse from “Jocelyn” … then a laugh!
That’s Alan, bless him! Now his arm he’s flinging        35
  Around your shoulder and life’s gained a half!
He’s waited to surprise you—has some matter,
  Some harebrained scheme, to tell to you alone;
Then down the three stone steps you two will clatter,
  And all the worries of your day have flown!        40
See! there’s “The Señor,” plump and rosy; meets you
  And smiles his “Messieurs” as you troop on through
The kitchen, where the steam of cooking greets you,
  And reach the tiny yard, and join the crew!
You never went there? Well, you might have wondered        45
  At what we found to make us like the place:
It wasn’t much to see; sometimes they blundered,
  And served us meals that merited no grace;
The tableware was cracked, the forks were greasy,
  They charged fantastic sums for their cigars;        50
But still the waiters always smiled their “Si, si.”
  And it was pleasant, underneath the stars.
Perhaps it wasn’t all my fancy painted:
  I only know that something seemed to give
The simplest speech a magic unacquainted,        55
  And all our words (of course) were bound to live!
What was its secret? I can not explain it.
  You missed it? Then you’ve only life’s flat lees!
Perhaps to go back would be to profane it,
  But, oh, how gay it was! What prophecies!        60

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