Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
Union Square (abridged)
By Walter Malone
I WATCH the water lilies in this pond,
  The white, the blue—the yellow and the red,
The sparrow tripping on their pads beyond,
  And splashing dewdrops on his wings and head.
The lotus, like a Cleopatra there,        5
  Reveals a bosom with a roseate glow,
As in her gorgeous old Egyptian lair
  She fascinated heroes long ago.
Adown the walk a throng of children goes
  With dewy eyes a-peep through hazy curls,        10
When years are poems, every month a rose,
  All morns are rubies and all noons are pearls.
Around these seats I see a motley crowd
  Of listless loungers, miserable and low,
With backs bent double, wrinkled faces bowed,        15
  Or, aimless, straggling by with footsteps slow.
With corncob pipes, these old men mumbling sit,
  Forsaken, friendless, waiting but for death,
When, like the dead leaves that around them flit,
  They fall to be forgotten in a breath.        20
And here a hard-faced girl reclines alone,
  Dreaming of dead days with their holy calm,
Before her happy heart was turned to stone,
  And slumber to her spirit brought no balm.
Here the young poet, once a farmer boy,        25
  Who with glad heart unto the city came,
Sees manhood years his high-born hopes destroy,
  And slay his dreams of fortune and of fame.
When night descends, electric argent lamps,
  Like radiant cactus blossoms, blaze on high;        30
The city seems a world of warlike camps,
  While Broadway with his legions thunders by.
In gilt play-houses hundreds sigh to see
  The mimic woes of actors on the stage,
But not one tear for actual grief shall be,        35
  The snares for childhood or the pangs of age.
Around this Square rich men and women ride,
  Bedizened creatures in their fashion flaunt,
While this starved outcast, planning suicide,
  Steals back to perish in his dismal haunt.        40
Strange, while is known so well the sparrow’s fall,
  Man heeds not when his brother’s plaint is made;
Strange, that the brightest, whitest light of all
  Should cast the deepest and the darkest shade!
But still the world denies its helping hand        45
  To those most worthy of its love and care.
If Christ returned to-night, He too would stand
  Homeless and friendless, here in Union Square.

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