the builders

by Berton Braley

Alland (1)
Image: Alexander Alland via Newark Public Library

Never a jungle is penetrated,
        Never an unknown sea is dared,
Never adventure is consummated,
        Never a faint new trail is fared,
But that some dreamer has had the vision
        Which leads men on to the ends of earth,
That laughs at doubting, and scorns derision,
        And falters not at the cynic’s mirth.

So the dreamer dreams, but there follows after
        The mighty epic of steel and stone,
When caison, scaffold and well and rafter
        Have made a fact where the dream was shown;
And so with furnace and lathe and hammer,
        With blast that rumbles and shaft that gleams,
Her factories crowned with a grimy glamour,
        Newark buildeth the dreamers’ dreams.

Where the torrent leaps with a roar of thunder,
        Where the bridge is built or the dam is laid,
Where the wet walled tunnel burrows under
        Mountain, river and palisade,
There is Newark’s magic of nail or girder,
        Of spikes and castings and posts and beams,
The need and wants of the world have spurred her,
        Newark—city that builds our dreams.

She has fashioned tools for the world’s rough duty,
        For the men who dig and the men that hew,
She has fashioned jewels for wealth and beauty,
        She has shod the prince and the pauper, too;
So the dreamer dreams, he’s the wonder waker,
        With soul that hungers and brain that teems,
But back of him toils the magic-maker,
        Newark—city that builds his dreams.

A prolific versifier and lyricist, Berton Braley won a $50 prize for this submission to Newark’s 250th anniversary poetry contest in 1916.

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