reminiscence

by Thomas L. Masson

Image: Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress

One morning at three o’clock
I stood on the corner of Broad and Market, Newark.
I had come from New York; I was going to my home in Glen Ridge.
I stood and waited for the Bloomfield Avenue car. The night
Was cool and pleasant, and I enjoyed the sight of the boys
Selling the morning papers; although I now confess
To the thought that I had about those boys. I thought
That they ought to be in
Bed. Every boy ought to be in bed at that hour. Yet
Here in America, we countenance such things. We
Have a lot to learn, here in America. At that moment
I viewed Newark in the light of a rising day. It seemed
To me that a vision of the future projected itself across the
Sky. There was so much life going on even then—the full
Abounding American life that we see in our cities, with all their
Suffering and crime and injustice and marvelous energy.
My friend, has the thought ever come to you at night,
In some large city, as you looked up at the stars
And viewed the majesty of God, that
That same majesty is forever visioned in the faces of the common
Crowd? Think then of the radiance of honesty, of perseverance,
Of dumb waiting for better things, of the glory of self-denial, of the
Sharing-spirit. Think of that, brother, and incline thine
Head humbly to the majesty of the Eternal
Law. The car came, and I stood up all the way home, but
I was glad that I had seen Newark on that night. It gave me a belief in its
Destiny, an abiding faith in its promise to fulfill
Its mission. I say this, knowing the grief in
Homes, the patience and resignation under the ban
Of toiling humanity. For out of the
Light of the coming day there is a something,
A Something that tells me that, as Browning says,
God is in his Heaven and all’s right with the world,
And Newark.

Thomas Lansing Masson was an editor and humorist. “Reminiscence” was printed in The Newarker of April 1916, and in The Newark Anniversary Poems the following year.

Lewis Hine photographed newsboys on the streets of Newark for the National Child Labor Committee. The image above dates to 1909.

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One thought on “reminiscence

  1. This moves me because it reveals the hope, the faith that Mr. Masson had – maybe that many people had – in this city. That is a precious commodity and one in short supply throughout the land, not just in Newark. The poem reminds me that it’s possible to believe in where you live and in the greater society, that crowds can hold a bright light instead of a threat, that cynicism does not have to prevail…

    Like

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