by Haniel Long
The day a modern city celebrates
Her age, and wonders what her life may mean,
Long dead philosophers could come to her,
Poets and scientists should throng to her,
And the most noble thoughts of men and women
Alive and dead, should quicken in her mind.
The clouds and stars should speak, nor should the fields
Be dumb; and the procession of the years
Should bring her many a richly ‘broidered word
Taken from the loom of time.
What would they say?
Newark, the years would bring the self-same words
They brought of old to Baghdad and Peking
And many an elder city now forgotten,
The self-same words they bring to San Francisco,
London, Berlin; for they would say to you
That though the gardens of the distant past
Are fair in memory, and though the dust
Of ancient times came to consummate flower
In many a beautifully bodied girl
And boy, in many a tender-hearted woman
And stalwart man, this life of ours today
Is quite as fair, and animated dust
As precious. They would say to you that still
Apples of the Hesperides are bright
And waiting to be picked, and days are fresh,
And dogwood still is white in early May.
And they would say that never any town
Was more belovèd of eternity
Nor given a more golden chance. Newark,
You have the only stuff that ever was
Of glory, for you have the souls of men:
The dream of love and justice which you weave
Out of the faces in your thoroughfares,—
A girl-like sunlight on the tasseled corn;
Beside her, eager with his love, a youth
Whose stride is music and whose laugh is wine,—
The dream you weave of them, the dream you weave
Of all your children and their hopes and fears,
Will be a prophecy of time to come,
When, in the wisdom of his ageless heart,
Mankind shall build the City Beautiful.
While teaching English in Pittsburgh, Long submitted this entry to the 250th anniversary poetry competition. It appeared in the September/October 1916 edition of The Newarker and The Newark Anniversary Poems.