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Wealth Post by :chadxc1 Category :Poems Author :Will Carleton Date :November 2011 Read :2261

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(From Arthur Selwyn's Note-book.)

Here in The City I ponder,
Through its long pathways I wander.
These are the spires that were gleaming
All through my juvenile dreaming.
This is The Something I heard, far away,
When, at the close of a tired Summer day,
Resting from work on the lap of a lawn,
Gazing to whither The Sun-god had gone,
Leaving behind him his mantles of gold--
This is The Something by which I was told;
"Bend your head, dreamer, and listen--
Come to my splendors that glisten!
Either to triumph they call you,
Or to what worst could befall you!"
This is The Something that thrilled my desires,
When the weird Morning had kindled his fires,
And the gray city of clouds in the east
Lighted its streets as for pageant or feast,
Whisp'ring--my spirit elating--
"Come to me, boy, I am waiting!
Bring me your muscle and spirit and brain--
Here to my glory-strewn, ruin-strewn plain!"
Treading the trough of the furrow,
Digging where life-rootlets burrow,
Blade of the food-harvest swinging,
In the barns toiling and singing,
Breath of a hay-meadow smelling,
Forest-trees loving and felling--
Where'er my spirit was turning,
Lived that mysterious yearning!
When in the old country school-house I conned
Legends of life in the broad world beyond--
When in the trim hamlet-college I cast
Wondering glances at days that were past--
Ever I longed for the walls and the streets,
And the rich conflict that energy meets!

* * * * *

So I have come: but The City is great
Bearing me down like a brute with its weight.
So I have come: but The City is cold,
And I am lonelier now than of old.

* * * * *

Yet, 'tis the same restless story:
Even to fail here were glory!
Grand, to be part of this ocean
Of matter and mind and emotion!
Here flow the streams of endeavor,
Cityward trending forever.--
Wheat-stalks that tassel the field,
Harvests of opulent yield,
Grass-blades that fence with each other,
Flower-blossoms--sister and brother--
Roots that are sturdy and tender,
Stalks in your thrift and your splendor,
Mind that is fertile and daring,
Face that true beauty is wearing--
All that is strongest and fleetest,
All that are dainty and sweetest.
Look to the domes and the glittering spires,
Waiting for you with majestic desires!
List to The City's gaunt, thunderous roar,
Calling and calling for you evermore!
Long in the fields you may labor and wait--
You and your tribe may come early or late;
Beauty and excellence dwell and will dwell
Oft amid garden and moorland and fell;
Long generations may hold them,
Centuries oft can enfold them;
But the rich City's they some time shall be,
Sure as the spring is the food of the sea.

* * * * *

(From Farmer Harrington's Calendar.)

SEPTEMBER 20, 18--.

Wind in the south-west; weather wondrous fine;
Thermometer 'twixt seventy-eight and nine.
Ground rather dry; sun flails us over-warm;
It's most time for the equinoctial storm.
Family healthy as could be desired;
Except we're somewhat mind and body tired
At moving over such a lengthy road,
And settling down here in our town abode,
And wrestling with the pains that filter through one
When he gives up an old home for a new one.

Old Calendar, you've always stood me true;
Now I'll change works, and do the same by you!
You're just as good as when, with aching arm,
I cleared and worked that eighty-acre farm!
And every night, in those hard, dear old days,
'Twas one of my most unconditional ways,
When to my labors I had said Good-night,
And recompensed my home-made appetite,
And talked with Wife, and traded family views,
And gathered all the latest township news,
And dealt my sons a sly fraternal hit,
And flirted with my daughters just a bit,
And through the papers tried my way to see,
So the world shouldn't slip out from under me,
As I was saying--in those sweet old days,
'Twas one of my most unconditional ways,
To go to you, old book, before I'd sleep,
And hand you over all the day to keep.

I gave you up what weather I could find,
Likewise the different phases of my mind;
What my hard hands from morn to night had done,
And what my mind had been subsisting on;
What accidents had touched my brain with doubt,
And what successes it had whittled out;
How well I had been able to control
The weather fluctuations of my soul;
What progress or what failures I had made
In spying round and stealing Nature's trade;
The seeds of actions planted long ago,
And whether they had blossomed out or no;
And oft, from what you of the past could tell,
I've learned to steer my future pretty well.

And now I'M RICH (who ever thought 'twould be!)
I'll stand by you, as you have stood by me;
And now I'm "City people"--having moved
(My circumstances suddenly improved)
Into this town, with some quick-gotten pelf,
To educate my children and myself,
And give my wife, who has a pedigree,
A chance to flutter round her family tree,
And show her natural city airs and graces
(Which didn't "take" quite so well in country places)
Now we are here, old fellow, while we stay
I'll give you all the news from day to day.
I'll find the good that in this city lurks,
By regular, systematic, hard days' works;
I'll rummage fearless round amongst the harm,
As when I hoed up thistles on my farm;
Shake hands with Virtue, help Sin while I spurn it,
And if there's anything to learn, I'll learn it.

How little I suspected, by the way--
Scrambling for pennies in that patch of clay,
The bare expenses of our lives to meet--
That waves of wealth were washing at my feet!
And when my hard and rather lazy soil
Sprung a leak upward with petroleum-oil--
When, through the wonder in my glad old eyes,
I saw tall derricks by the hundred rise,
Flinging wealth at me with unceasing hand,
And turning to a mine my hard old land,
Until it seemed as if the spell would hold
Till every blade of grass was turned to gold--
I felt, as never yet had come to me,
How little round the curves of life we see;
Or, in our rushings on, suspect or view
What sort of stations we are coming to!
It brought a similar twinge--though not so bad--
As once, when losing every cent I had.

But still it could not shift my general views;
My mind didn't faint at one good piece of news.
I think I'd too much ballast 'neath my sail
To be capsized by one good prosperous gale
(Same as I didn't lie down and give up all
That other time, when tipped up by a squall).
I didn't go spreeing for my money's sake,
Or with my business matters lie awake;
'Twould never do, as I informed my wife,
To let a little money spoil our life!

And now I'm rich (who ever thought 'twould be!)
I'll look about, and see what I can see;
Appoint myself a visiting committee,
With power to act in all parts of the city;
Growl when I must, commend whene'er I can,
And lose no chance to help my fellow-man.
For he who joy on others' paths has thrown,
Will find there's some left over for his own;
And he who leads his brother toward the sky,
Will in the journey bring himself more nigh.

And what I see and think, in my own way,
I'll tell to you, Old Calendar, each day;
And if I choose to do the same in rhyme,
What jury would convict me of a crime?
For every one, from palaces to attics,
Has caught, some time or other, The Rhythmatics.


* * * * *

(From Arthur Selwyn's Note-book.)

Still through The City I ponder,
Still do I wonder and wander.
City--unconscious descendant
Of olden-time cities resplendent!
Child of rich forefathers hoary,
Clad in their gloom and their glory!--
Dream I of you in the rich, mellow past,
Throbbing with life, and with Death overcast.

Thebes--not to you, crushed and ghastly and dumb,
Even the wreck-loving Ivy will come!
Where stood your hundred broad, world-famous gates,
Now a black Arab for charity waits.
Not like this City--metropolis bold--
Where the whole world brings its goods and its gold!

Babylon--here the queen's gardens climbed high,
Painting their flowers on the blue of the sky:


This is where sinners, one asinine hour,
Thought they could travel to Heaven by tower.
(How like some sinners to-day, whose desires
Mount by the way of their greed-builded spires!)

Troy--of rare riches and valor possessed,
Ruined fore'er by one beautiful guest--
(Here many Helens, though less of renown,
Do for some men what she did for a town!)

Wondrous Palmyra, whose island of green,
'Mid the bleak sand, reared the beautiful queen
(Sweet-faced Zenobia, peerless
Proud in her virtue, and fearless)
In this metropolis, virtuously grand,
Many a queen is a joy to the land!

Tyre--the huge pillars that groaned under thee,
Rest in the depths of a desolate sea;
Long may it be ere the spray's salted showers
Foam o'er the walls of this city of ours!

Mound-men's vast cities, whose graves we accost,
Even your names are in ruins--and lost.
What if, some time when this nation is nought,
Vainly our names in our graves should be sought!

* * * * *

Cities that yet are to flourish,
That the rich Future must nourish!
Where will you take up your stations--
Where set your massive foundations?
Where are the slumbering meadows,
Dreaming of clouds through their shadows,
That by rough wheels rudely shaken,
Into new life shall awaken?
Harbors that placidly float
Nought but the fisherman's boat,
Think you of fleets that shall lie
Under the blue of your sky;
When shall be built on your land
Palaces wealthily grand;
When in your face from tall spires
Gleam the electrical fires?
Cities that yet are to be,
You are not phantoms to me!
You are as certain and sure
As that Old Time shall endure.

* * * * *

Stars in the distant, mysterious sky,
Flashing and flaming and dancing on high,
Each is an earth to its millions,
Each has its domes and pavilions.
Cities, I see you--by reasoning led--
On the great map with blue leaves overhead.
Seaport and lakeport and rich inland town,
Capital city, and village of brown;
Thanking the prairie-food-givers,
Strung on the winding star-rivers.
Earths that can signal to earths, every one,
With the bright torches you stole from the sun,
Each on its surface has strown
Cities and towns of its own,
Fraught with their crimes and their graces,
Full of mysterious places.
They are no myths unto me--
Clearly their outlines I see;
Millions of towns I descry
Hanging o'er me from the sky.

* * * * *

Still through the paths of the town,
Dreaming, I walk up and down.
Is it so much of a wonder--
Part of this whole, yet asunder,
I in this throng, and I only--
That I am wretched and lonely?
Loneliness--loneliness ever--
Leaving me utterly, never!
Yes, I am part of this ocean
Of matter and mind and emotion;
Yet how entirely apart,
Severed in mind and in heart!


(From Farmer Harrington's Calendar.)

SEPTEMBER 25, 18--.

Wealth--wealth--wealth--wealth! I never had been led,
From all I'd thought and dreamed and heard and read,
To think so much wealth, in whatever while,
Could be raked up into one shining pile!
Not long ago, a hundred dollars clear,
Big as a hay-stack would to me appear.
When first a thousand dollars made me smile,
I sympathized with Croesus quite a while;
But looking round here makes me feel the same
As if I hadn't a nickel to my name!

Wealth--wealth! why, every acre I behold
Has cost a mine of Californi' gold!
The very ground one building here might fill
Would almost buy the town of Tompkins Hill!

There isn't a house my scrutiny has crossed
But catches several figures in its cost;
And when your eyes into the parlor go
('Mongst things they leave the curtains up to show),
And see the carpets, rugs, and draperies rich,
That twine ten dollars into every stitch,
And view great pictures that such prices hold
As if the painter's brush were dipped in gold;

And when along the roads great buggies glide,
With covers on, and rich-dressed folks inside,
And up on top a man to drive the team--
As fat as any cat brought up on cream
(Man and team both), the driver dressed as gay
As if he meant to marry that same day,
Or wed his boss's daughter that same night
(Which some consider as the coachman's right,
And think it's understood, when he engages,
A daughter should be thrown in with his wages),
When even the horses, as so many do,
Wear jewelry that cost a farm or two,
You wonder in what tree-top grew the cash
To buy so much reality and trash!

Wealth--wealth--wealth--wealth! the very corner stores
Are gold-mines from the ceilings to the floors!
The shop we thought would ruin Cousin Phil,
Because 'twas over-large for Tompkins Hill,
Would, in the small vest-pocket, lose its way,
Of one man's place I wandered through to-day!

And then the banks--a hundred on one street--
As full of money as an egg of meat
(Although one never knows beyond a doubt
What colored chickens they'll be hatching out);

And then the churches--elegant to view--
An independent fortune in each pew.
One window-pane in one big church that's here
Cost more than our old preacher made per year!
(A city pastor's salary, I declare,
Would keep him all his life, with cash to spare,
A-preaching in that little house of wood,
Holding his hearers' eyes in all he could,
With rolling meadows and green trees in view,
And fresh-complexioned streamlets wandering through);

And then the rich school-houses in this town,
Where children can be taught up-stairs and down,
Swifter (if not so thorough), I suppose,
Than in the small log school-house, where I rose
From Numeration to the Rule of Three,
And had Irregular Verbs whipped into me;

And then the railroad stations, where, each day,
Fortunes on wheels rush in and drive away;
And then the steamboats paddling up and down--
Towns swimming on their way from town to town;

And then the ladies, in both street and store,
Done up in silks and satins, spangled o'er
As if it had rained diamonds for an hour,
And they had gone and stood out in the shower;

And then the rich and idle-houred young men--
The rising generation's "Upper 10"
(With the "1" left off), who each day, no doubt,
Spend twice as much as all my "setting out,"
When Father said, "The family craft is full;
Launch your own craft and show us how to pull."

I often think, when past a dandy glides,
Throwing his (father's) money on all sides,
And peeking under each young lady's veil,
As if he'd bought her at a mortgage sale,
How shrewd it was of him, right on the start,
To have a father who was rich and smart!
(Folks often pride themselves much, by-the-way,
Because their parents greater were than they.)

Walking to-day along Fifth Avenue,
A slip of paper on the sidewalk flew
Before my eyes--some one the same had dropped;
I reached my hand down for it and it stopped.
I picked it up--the reading on't was queer;
I think, perhaps, I'll paste it right in here.

(The end)
Will Carleton's poem: Wealth

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