military park

by Joseph Fulford Folsom

ESS Newark
Image: Playle’s Auctions

Old drilling-green! you register
The city life. You are the glass
Reflecting what it thinks and feels,
The stage on which its actions run,
Its face on which emotions play,
You screen the laughing comedy
That comes and goes with every hour;
You set the scene for tragedies
That reel out endlessly their pain.

War’s atmosphere was early blown
Across your velvet lawn. The tramp
Of rough-shod feet crushed down the grass
When rumors of the savage foe
Alarmed. You saw the Jersey Blue,
And later welcomed Washington,
Close followed by the British troops,
And every war of free America
In some way touched your sacred soil.

Your tempting shadows know the tale
The lover stammers like a prayer,
And beads with fervent kisses laid
Upon the lips of his fair shrine;
And not Old Trinity itself,
That nearby lifts its graceful spire
Among the trees, more zeal inspires,
For love is like in aisle or green,
With one Great Lover over all.

The brush of tripping baby feet
You feel—as ocean feels the kiss
Of rippling zephyrs on its face—
You nourish them on your full breast
With light and air—kind nature’s food.
You give the tired mother rest,
And for the jaded clerk at noon
You make a land of dreams to prop
His crumbling hope of better days.

You know the secrets of the clan
That sit and drone the hours away–
The disappointed and the broke,
The down-and-outer and the bum—
The living tragedies that run
Along with gay prosperity—
You know it all, old drilling-ground!—
You register the city’s soul,
And we unmoved look on the show.

The Newark Sunday Call carried this poem in its August 10, 1919, edition.

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