Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
City Whistles
By Edith Wyatt
To H. M.

NOW the morning winds are rising. Now the morning whistles cry.
Fast their crescent voices dim the paling star.
Through the misted city mainland, wide their questing summons fly
Many-toned—“O mortal, tell me who you are!”
Down the midland, down the morning, fresh their sweeping voices buoy:        5
“Siren ship! Silver ship! Sister ship! Ahoy! Sister ship, ahoy! Ship ahoy!”
“What’s the stuff of life you’re made from? What the cargo you must trade from?”
From afar their onward voices break the blue,
Crying, “Bring your gold or barley! Come to barter! Come to parley!
Ring the bell, and swing the bridge, and let me through.”        10
Like some freighted ship that goes, where the city river flows,
Like a trading ship that questions, “Who are you?”
In among the river craft, as she rides by stack and shaft
Through Chicago from Sheboygan and the Soo.
“What’s the stuff of life you’re made from? What the cargo you convoy?        15
Ring the bell! Swing the bridge! Sister ship, ahoy!”
At last
The twilight rises fast.
“Hard was the day!”
The questing whistles say.        20
Over wall and plinth, ascendant, smoke-wreaths, hyacinth, resplendent,
Curl and flow;
And many-voiced the evening whistles bay,
“Hard was our day.”
The scaling whistles say,        25
“Our jarred and jangled day.”
Then all their clamors blow,
“Great was our day!”
And sing a tale of fate untold and fugitive,
Something spacious, something mordant, something gracious and discordant,        30
Mean and splendid, something all our lives here live.
Down the midland mists at twilight, have you heard their singing sweep,
Where their far-toned voices, many-chorded, buoy—
And our mortal ways in wonder hail creation’s unknown deep—
“Siren ship! Silver ship! Sister ship, ahoy!”        35

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